I’d only planned to buy seven chicks, one egg a day for each person in our family. But at the last minute, I reached into the bin at our local Maine feed store and pulled out a scampering black fluff ball, sure the extra eggs would be great for baking. Only instead of laying eggs that chick, which our oldest son named Pamela, grew up to crow!

At first discovering that we’d bought a rooster was funny – at least to everyone but our neighbors, who didn’t appreciate being woken up at 5 every morning. Still, we kept him. After all, we’d chosen this green-black Australian Australorp. Our children cuddled with him on the couch. For all his strutting and crowing, he was ours. And so Sir Pamela, as we now called him, became part of our family.

Then one day, Sir Pamela attacked, chasing our children down the driveway, leaping at their bare arms and faces with his hooked beak and razor talons. For protection, they carried garbage pail lids, sticks, and umbrellas while we continued feeding the rooster and penning him safely each night – all while making excuses for his behavior; after all, it was his nature. He was operating on instinct. And so we tried to make peace with him.

This went on for about a year. Then, early this summer while our 3-year-old son gathered eggs from the henhouse, the rooster charged, pinning our son to the ground and diving at his back and head. My husband, Dana, scooped up our wailing son and carried him inside. Blood seeped from deep cuts under this eye and on his head.

“The rooster has to go,” I said.

But getting rid of Sir Pamela turned out to be an even bigger problem. We offered him to friends and listed him online, but the internet was full of free roosters. We penned him, but he escaped. We called an animal processing plan, only to find they required a minimum of 100 birds per order. And all the while we kept feeding the rooster, who lunged at me whenever I fed him.

I grew up on a farm. My mom butchered our chickens, and my brother and I plucked. But I had never killed an animal and wasn’t eager to. But when the rooster once more escaped and spent the day swaggering about our yard while my children and I cowered inside, I could take it no longer.

I need you to get rid of or kill the rooster tonight, I emailed my husband at work.

Ok… Sounds like stew, he wrote back. Are you ready to show me how to pluck???

The next morning, after consulting chicken-owning friends, Dana carried Sir Pamela and an ax into the woods. Half an hour later, only Dana came back. I was horrified and grateful at the same time. The next morning, we all slept in. And our children safely played outside for the first time in months. The peace was so tangible I couldn’t believe how long we’d tolerated – and not only tolerated, but fed! – the beast that tormented us, making excuses for his behavior and going to great lengths to protect his freedom while we ourselves became prisoners.

Yet, how often do we do this in our own lives? The same way I chose that rooster, we often choose the vices that torment us, actively cultivating a lifestyle of worry, unforgiveness, hate, fear, deceit, negativity or abuse. While such habits hurt us, we routinely make excuses for our behavior all while protecting, feeding and nurturing the thing that harms us until we – and our loved ones – get hurt. Just as we could not make peace with our rooster, we cannot make peace with sin. To break free, we must terminate its power over us.

But how? The apostle Paul points the way: “So, do not let sin control you in your life here on earth. You must not be ruled by the things your sinful self makes you want to do… but offer yourselves to God.” (Romans 6:12-13 ICB). On my own, I’m incapable of controlling troublesome tendencies and choices. But by offering myself to God and accepting the life and grace of Christ Jesus, I am no longer a prisoner but free.

Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of “Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores,” writes stories of faith for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Connect at www.meadowrue.com