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How to Eat Crow

I had to eat crow twice in an hour last week.

Mind you, I love to cook and pride myself on being able to make a tasty meal out of just about anything...but crow? I don’t think I can make it appetizing. But if you’re hungry (for freedom), even crow can satisfy.

Just in case you don't know, the idiom “eating crow” means facing the "humiliation of admitting being wrong after taking a strong position." It's believed to have originated in the 1800s, a farm anecdote reflecting biblical references to crows being inedible as carcass scavengers and "eating one's words."

Whatever the origins, I had to do it. Some of you will sympathize. Bear with me as I share my hopefully instructive, long-winded experience.

First serving of crow.

First, I had a ceiling leak during heavy rain last week in a spot that's been there a long time. I emailed, called, and texted my condo association and nobody replied. For days.

I remembered calling about the spot years ago after a new roof was installed and a contractor told me it was a/c condensation. I couldn't afford to replace the ceiling, so I left it. Now, seeing the water coming down during the rain, I believed I'd caught them red-handed. I thought they deceived me as a single woman, which had just happened with a car mechanic whom I caught in flagrante delicto. I was loaded for bear and predisposed to believe the worst.

After a few days of enraging silence, I sent a scathing email, also accusing the female condo reps of tolerating such sexist shenanigans. I’m articulate. My strong words landed. Suddenly, the roofers were all over it. One of the owners called me, genuinely hurt by my accusation.

They sent a crew immediately and discovered that a vital pipe (that drains rainwater?) was compromised. They even sent me film of the pipe in question in my attic crawl space.

I apologized promptly to the owner’s face. He graciously accepted my apology. I emailed the management company and the condo board, stating that I was wrong and apologizing for my accusations. I have not heard back, but that’s standard. I’ve done my part. Peace.

Second serving of crow.

I got a call from a doctor’s office late in the day asking me to complete essential online paperwork for my older son’s doctor’s appointment within an hour. The secretary was professional, polite, and curt. It had been a long day, and I was rushing to pick up my younger son. Rushing to complete medical forms while my son was at baseball practice was a major irritant. My voice had a mighty sharp edge as I complained about the last-minute demand and then the frustration of having to re-do it because of what seemed like senseless protocol and technical issues.

I complied and after I cooled off and learned my son had gotten the paperwork a week earlier, I called back to apologize for my rudeness. She coolly appreciated it, understandably peeved.

For further illustration of a more intimate variety, I’ll add a black-feathered meal from January, too…

Third serving of crow.

I felt overlooked and inconvenienced by a friend over a social occasion in January. Rejection sometimes makes me feel like the bullied twelve-year-old I was. I reacted like a 12-year-old with a sulky, childish attitude.

Once I cooled off (early the next morning), I texted a vulnerable apology, explaining how 12-year-old Isabella experienced the slight and how messed up and infantile my reaction was.

My friend texted back promptly to schedule a time to talk and then sincerely apologized for the unintended injury, explained what had happened that resulted in the issue, expressed her appreciation of me and our friendship, and has since made a warm effort to demonstrate her caring and consideration through action. WOW. What an example to me…plus so comforting!

Humbling not humiliating.

I’m grateful to report that thanks to the Holy Spirit in me and years of recovery, the crow tasted good. I didn’t feel humiliated because I want the freedom of a clear conscience by owning when I’ve been wrong. The more completely I can own my part, the freer, happier, and more peaceful I am.

I don’t apply this principle 100 percent, but I feel best when I do. Having done many variations over the years—good, bad, and ugly—the “fearless and thorough” crow-eating is definitely the most liberating!

I want to point out that exasperating misadventures with unresponsive HOAs, dishonest contractors and mechanics, annoying doctor’s offices, irritating technology, and burdensome medical paperwork are common to man—for real. Who hasn’t had a fit—internal or outburst—faced with one of these quasi-demonic irritants?

None of that excuses our part when we’re wrong.

Likewise, we’ve all experienced misunderstandings and injuries with friends and family, intentional or otherwise, big or small. Sometimes they sincerely own their part and act accordingly. Sometimes not. None of that excuses our part when we’re wrong.

Again, The Twelve Steps offer simple shorthand for this increasingly overlooked practice of admitting our wrongness without blame or comparison.

I’m citing the Twelve Step practice because I find it most closely parallels the ego-leveling, equalizing truth of the Gospel that we’re all sinners in dire need of mercy and saving grace.

Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost that.

We've also lost the notion that sin matters to God and has consequences.

Step Four invites us to take a fearless moral inventory of ourselves. The focus is us, not the other person, even when there is legitimate, intentional, or accidental injury, however grave. This practice doesn’t nullify or excuse when we’ve been wronged. It doesn’t mean we skip off into the sunset hand in hand with an unapologetic offender. It merely keeps the focus on our part, which may include setting ourselves up to be hurt. That’s especially humbling because there’s no one to blame.

Later, if indicated, we make amends (Step 9) for our part only (no finger-pointing), as long as our amends don’t make matters worse for someone else and as long as we’re sincerely willing to change the wounding behavior. That’s called repentance, but “amends” is less threatening.

Step 10 urges continuous self-examination and amends as needed.

Bottom line, when crow-eating is indicated, it’s best to go ahead and eat it promptly.

Eating Cosmic crow.

From a cosmic standpoint, I believe pride is a giant obstacle for any of us to admit we’re wrong and need forgiveness, much less that we need help or saving. This is especially true if we’re superficially comfortable overall. The material comforts of money, property, and influence can lull us. As long as we’re personally comfy, we can deny our own need for saving and the suffering around us. Our material comfort can deceive us into thinking our bad behavior is okay or worse, that we’re entitled to it.

The world seems to be at this crossroads, reluctant to admit we’ve been out of sync with God and that our problems are too great for even the greatest minds, the biggest wallets, and the most powerful human forces to tackle. Too many are too comfy to care too much. I sense this will change soon and we’ll be invited to re/turn to God.

What will it take to penetrate our pride and humble us enough to eat crow?

Some find it difficult to admit that a God exists, much less that there is just one particular God who is authorized to forgive us. Even if He’s oh-so-willing to forgive us, if only we’d ask.

Gosh, for some, it’s humbling to admit we’re not god, even in our little slice of life. For others, to concede that there’s only one God and it’s not who we thought--well, that can be ego-crushing.

It’s also humbling to admit that God’s definition of right and wrong is accurate. We don’t want to agree. Maybe it seems outdated, irrelevant, or excessive. Or maybe we’ve been actively operating under the assumption that Jesus died for our sins and thus, let’s just go ahead and do whatever because He died for it already. We can abuse our freedom only to discover we're enslaved again.

This isn’t a correct understanding of grace or sin. It’s cheap grace, as they say.

The other variant of cheap grace is self-flagellating or condemnation for our ongoing struggles. This is my personal favorite. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so I could add a hairshirt to my wardrobe for the way in which I continue to struggle, remorseful at my persistent humanity. Don’t get too excited. I’m not doing anything that will make headlines or racy chatter.

Moreover, it’s humbling to own our part without minimizing, justifying, or blaming anyone or anything else like the democrats, the republicans, the purple, pink, or green people, the rich, the poor, my parents, partner, or whatever.

I want so desperately to diffuse, to make excuses or justify my behavior, like with the HOA, roofer, the doctor’s secretary, or my friend. I want some kind of loophole that makes me right and you wrong.

This also means we don’t plot our sin on a continuum, scoring my sin as way more acceptable than yours. This too, isn’t accurate.


As I often point out, God’s standard is perfection. Anything short is, well, not perfect, which is sin.

What’s the happy middle ground? What’s the neutral Switzerland of law and grace? Eating crow. Grateful repentance. Agreeing God is God and I’m not. Knowing that my wayward ways are out of line and that I need help. Recognizing that in Christ, we find rescue.

The world needs help of the cosmic variety. Getting it may involve eating a big serving of crow.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:8-10


God, we need Your help. Forgive us for making ourselves gods, ignoring You, or defining You according to our own self-serving preferences. Thank You for Your mercy and grace in providing a way out of our messes, Jesus. Help us humbly re/turn to You and receive Your healing help and the true freedom we long for. In Christ’s name I ask it. Thank You. I love You.💖

Thanks bunches! Love, Isabella

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