In the news this week is the story of woman who tried to take her large ‘emotional support peacock’ with her on a United Airlines flight. In recent years, airlines have made allowances for people travelling with an ‘emotional support animal’, usually a dog or cat. The airline in this case felt the bird was too large and would be too disruptive to the flight. Other passengers, while amused, were happy to be flying without the colourful bird on board.
The number of people with emotional support animals has been growing over the years. These individuals spend most of their day with their pet. An animal is often thought to have a calming effect for people with anxiety. In many cases, it really seems to help people cope with various issues in life.
We all need emotional support. Many people unfortunately haven’t been given the kind of support they need. For many individuals, it was missing in the family they grew up in. Food, shelter and clothing might have been in abundance, but if love and care were missing, it’s hard for an individual to recover these. I remember one man in his sixties telling me that all he wanted to hear from his father was, “I love you.” But he never heard it and it haunted him throughout his life.
As believers – as the family of God – we are called to offer support to one another. We are given dozens of commands in the New Testament about supporting one another:
• Don’t grumble among one another (John 6:43)
• Accept one another (Romans 15:7)
• Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ephesians 4:2)
• Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
• Bear with and forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
• Love one another (John 13:34; 1 Peter 1:22)
• Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
• Encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
• Pray for one another (James 5:16)
There’s a lot we are encouraged to do for one another. Sometimes, that means listening to someone’s story even if it doesn’t always make sense. They need to tell it. Sometimes, it means going the extra mile to share with them in a practical way. Often, it just means being present when someone is going through difficulty.
It would be a shame if we had to rely on a giant peacock for the kind of support that we are supposed to offer one another. Reach out and let someone you know know that you care.