Saturday, August 8th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Chasing a Three-Legged Chicken


If we deal with stress poorly, it can damage
our health by lodging in certain places in our body.

A longtime friend, Dr. David Brown, told a story about a man who had the most unusual experience. It seems that as he was driving along a country road, he noticed a chicken running alongside his car. The man was amazed that the chicken was staying right with him. He had never seen a chicken run that fast!

Wanting to see what kind of chicken it was, he stopped his car.

The chicken stopped. To his further amazement, he noticed the chicken had three legs! He got out of his car and followed the chicken over the hill. On the other side of the hill, he saw a chicken farm with chickens zooming back and forth across the yard. As he stared at the chickens, he heard someone ask him, 'May I help you?'

He turned around to see a farmer. 'I can't believe it,' he responded. All these chickens have three legs! How did that happen?'

The farmer said, 'They are my chickens. There are three of us in my family, and we all love drumsticks. Since a chicken only has two legs, one of us was always left out. So I experimented until I came up with a three-legged chicken.'

'How do they taste?' the man asked. To which the farmer replied, 'I don't know. I haven't been able to catch one.'

When we examine our lives, we soon realize that we have created a three-legged chicken. We have overscheduled our children and ourselves to the point that we seem to be running from one event or task to another. This leaves us feeling stressed out by being overwhelmed or burned out. We may find it difficult to sleep or relax.

When we do make time for ourselves, it often is negative time spent putting things off or staring at the television. Negative space is not refreshing or even enjoyable.

When we are stressed by chasing the chicken, we aren't good company for our family. We are physically present but are not available or present mentally. Often we can become irritated at simple requests because they seem to be more demands upon our time and energy. We all have stress. Some of us would be stressed out in paradise.

The point needs to be made: not all stress is bad. It is how we deal with stress that matters. If we deal with stress poorly, it can damage our health by lodging in certain places in our body.

Some of us get it in our neck or stomach. Others of us can get sick or have horrible headaches. Besides damaging ourselves, stress can damage our relationships. So in the next few articles, I would like to present several ways of dealing with stress so it can be used for us instead of against us.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700