Have you ever watched chickens interact with each other? Watching chickens peck at the ground can be nice and relaxing until they turn on each other. Each flock of chickens has a pecking order. If you’re at the top, you don’t get pecked. If you are not at the top, you get pecked by someone higher on the pecking order and then you get to peck someone who is lower on the pecking order. If you are at the bottom of the pecking order, that’s when they start pecking other objects (e.g., a human’s foot).
My mom had a chicken that was incubated and hatched in her second grade classroom. After Speedy (as Mom’s students named her) grew from a chick to a hen (and was no longer a classroom pet), she went to live permanently with my parents.
She was funny to watch. As far as chickens go, she was rather smart and she knew when she was getting into trouble. Watching her run from danger was especially hilarious. She could outrun me any day! As an only chicken, so to speak, she did not have to interact with a flock, but her chicken instincts were still strong. She saw Mom as top chicken, but not Dad. She pecked his feet constantly. Needless to say Dad was not a fan.
Not only did Dad get his feet pecked, but other visitors who caught her in a bad mood also experienced the joy of having a razor sharp beak pop their tender flesh. And you wouldn’t even dream of coming into her presence with nail polish on your toes. Apparently painted toes remind her of yummy bugs… and she loved yummy bugs.
Though we don’t peck each other with a sharp beak, we often peck each other with a sharp tongue. Think about school days as a child. Generally there were a few “top dogs.” They would pick on the typical kids, who in turn would pick on the kids who were shy or different. Then those poor kids would lash out at random times because of hurt and frustration.
Unless we’re careful, we don’t change much as we grow up. We just peck at each other in more socially acceptable ways: we gossip about others; we’re passive aggressive on Facebook; and behind closed doors, we lash out at our spouse or children. If we don’t get a hold of the selfishness within us, we peck. It’s in our sinful nature.
Pecking in a marriage can be especially damaging. Just as my dad did not enjoy Speedy pecking his feet, men don’t enjoy being pecked constantly by their wives; and, though it’s not as common of a practice, women don’t enjoy being pecked by their husbands either. Sharp, unexpected, painful blows to our ears and hearts leave marks. After we’ve taken as much pecking as we can handle, we retaliate out of desperation. How many times have you witnessed a woman nag her husband out of his mind and then react with dramatic tears when he finally raises his voice to her?
Gentleness is always the key in any intimate relationship (I Peter 3:3-8). Soft, fluid words, motions and touches bring comfort to people; whereas, quick, sharp words and actions bring anxiety. If you want to get through to someone, poking them in the arm over and over won’t get the job done (unless you want their anger).
Approaching others, especially spouses, with clear, direct gentleness is the way to go. I wish I could say that I always approach Eric with gentleness. He wishes I could say that too. ~smile~ Unfortunately, it’s a work in progress. Pecking and nagging are approaches I can use without even realizing it. Thankfully, Eric is quick to tell me when he is feeing nagged so the behavior does not continue indefinitely.
If you are in a relationship, ask your boyfriend or girlfriend how often he or she feels pecked (i.e., nagged, annoyed) by you. Examples will be quite helpful to you so you can be on guard to prevent their reoccurrence. Make a special point to approach everyone with a gentle spirit (which is easier for certain personality types than others) and you’ll be much happier with the outcome of your interactions if you do! ~smile~ If your boyfriend or girlfriend is trying to approach you with more gentleness, occasionally tell him or her that you notice and appreciate the change.
Do you have a tendency to peck at others?