Horses vs. Hummingbirds

“Horse & Hummingbird” by Jason Kotecki. Oil on canvas.
Mini*Print and Canvas Print are available.

One of the main reasons I wrote the book Must Be Nice is because I compare myself to other people all the time. Social media exacerbates this, but honestly, I don’t need anybody’s help.

I compare myself to other speakers, other artists, and authors. Both dead and alive.

I compare myself and my house and my yard and my patio furniture to my neighbors.

I compare myself to the people I went to high school with that I see posting on Facebook.

I compare myself to other guys who can build things and fix things and fight things better than me.

I compare myself to people older than me. Have I eclipsed them yet?

I compare myself to people younger than me. Are they catching up to me?

Can you relate?

If so, you know it’s exhausting.

Let’s consider something together. According to the Bible, God made hummingbirds on the 5th day. He made horses on the 6th. I assume He made a horse because He wanted something different than a hummingbird. I mean, He already had a hummingbird, and the horse is quite a departure from it. 

I don’t expect he chastises horses for not being able to fly or expects hummingbirds to hang their tiny heads in shame for all the times they don’t win the Kentucky Derby. Hummingbirds are perfectly suited to do what they do quite well, and the same can be said for horses. Quite frankly, it’s kind of ridiculous to compare the two.

So why do we do it with one another? It’s no less ridiculous.

I recently did it with my neighbors.

The image will stay in my head forever: The dark gold pickup truck rolled past my studio, through our backyard, and off the bluff, to the rocky shore fifty feet below. The crash jolted me from my prayer chair, and I called to Kim as I threw on my shoes. I rushed to the bluff and called 9-1-1 to report the accident. The truck was partially submerged in the lake. The airbag was deployed but there was no sign of a person.

As I continued talking to the operator, my neighbor Ben rushed down a nearby access point, climbed over boulders, and approached the truck. With great effort, he was able to wrestle open the door and pull a woman from the vehicle. She was unconscious, and the waves slammed both of them down. Finally, Ben was able to drag her to shore.

Meanwhile, Kim summoned my other neighbor, Bill, a surgeon. He sped to the scene and began performing CPR. I followed him down in case I could be of help, but mostly just observed the heroic efforts of Ben, Bill, and the EMTs who arrived a short time later.

Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done to save the woman, who had been suffering from a variety of health challenges and decided that this was her best option to end her pain.

Incidents like this leave us with more questions than answers. I’ve been asking a lot of them in the days since.

Why was I the only one to see the event? Could I have done more? I marveled at the way Ben and Bill sprung into action, rushing to the woman’s side and trying to help. Had someone else been on the phone beside me, would I have rushed down to help? Honestly, I don’t know.

Elsewhere in the Bible, we learn that “God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” (Romans 12:6)

Like horses and hummingbirds.

Perhaps He gives certain people the reflex to run toward danger when other people are running the other way. Maybe He gave me the gift to observe and process the events that happen, to share some hope, and to provide a measure of comfort to others so they can know Him better and grow in their faith.

Bill deals with things on his operating table with a steady calm that I couldn’t fathom being able to handle.

Ben is taller and stronger than me; way more capable of fighting the tide and pulling someone from a half-submerged vehicle.

But neither of them is an artist, writer, or speaker. And so here I am, called to be a witness and a messenger of hope.

I don’t know why Missy wasn’t able to get the relief she desperately needed. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. But I do believe that God’s ways are not my ways and that He can bring good things out of tragedy.

I also need you to know that you are here for a reason, with a special combination of gifts and talents no one else has. You are supposed to do what you’re made for. And no one else has the same mission as you do.

Life is hard. There’s a lot of darkness and pain in our world. But there is also light and joy. Our gifts are for bringing that light and joy to others in a way only we can.

We don’t need you to be a horse.

We don’t need you to be a hummingbird.

We don’t need you to be a better version of that girl you went to high school with.

We just need you to be you. 

A version of this article first appeared at


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