See the picture?
Wearing 2022 glasses backwards, beaming with childlike delight. The numbers sitting backwards on her face; she sees the new year with joy.
If you look the 2s looked like swans.
Noticing this, I heard a favourite children’s song ‘Ugly Duckling’ and I heard the Lord whisper…
‘She’s a swan…’

I agreed, but as I went to text the brief encouragement to my friend, He stopped me and repeated the words,

‘She’s a swan, My Church She’s a Swan!’

I have been hearing the song in my spirit on repeat. I hear it now even as I type these words.

Hans Christian Andersen transcribed the story of the Ugly Duckling in the 1800s. It has stood the test of time, and most would know of it in some form or another.

It’s the story of an egg hatching in the nest of a mother duck, who patiently stayed with the egg until it hatched. The egg differed from the other eggs. It was bigger; it took longer to hatch, yet when it did hatch, she saw the beauty in the hatchling, but only for a time. Eventually she too rejected the hatchling and so he went on a journey of discovery of who he truly was, facing hardship, ridicule and doubt.

You can read the translated story on the link below. I recommend you read and allow God to speak to you.

From this story, there is the following to learn and lean into. Each point matches the progression of the story:

  1. Sometimes the tight space we have been inhabiting limits our view – in this time of hatching, look further through His eyes, beyond the known. Expect to see and travel where previous generations have never journeyed, for this is where we head. It’s a seemingly fresh path; yet, it is the Ancient of Ways.
  2. Sometimes we sit for a long time waiting for an egg to hatch. It’s big, and it may not look as expected. Do not allow others to discourage you from birthing the thing God has given you. The Body needs you to complete your part. Others may say you are hatching a turkey, because they do not have eyes to see beyond the obvious. You are hatching a swan – something of Heaven’s Royalty. Give yourself time, be patient, your egg, the Church’s egg, will hatch. The new unseen will come.
  3. Do not discount God’s hatchling He has given, because it does not look like anything you have known before. Be proud of what you have birthed, and protect it from attack. Be proud of the new that the Church has birthed, and protect His Bride from attack.
  4. When in doubt, submerge your vision in the Holy Spirit. Step into obedience. See if it swims. If it does, it’s a swan (not a turkey). Anything fully submerged in Holy Spirit will purify and clarify into Kingdom purposes, regardless of what it looked like when it stepped in.
  5. Do not compare, attack or reject others because they look different to anything you have seen before. Similarly, don’t attack His Bride, the Church, just because She does not look like what you expect.
  6. Stay focused knowing that there are things you do well that others do not. We need one another. Protect the different until it has had time to mature, for the wheat and the tare (the weeds) look the same until maturity. Give yourself and others time to grow. (See the Parable of the Tares in Matt 13:24-43). The wheat will define itself in due time.
  7. If you have dealt with rejection in a previous season, refuse to take that season into this next. Do not see yourself as others have cast you; instead, see yourself through God’s eyes in 2022 and watch what you will birth, for it WILL be magnificent.
  8. The ‘next thing’ is not something that either the traditional established, nor the wild ones have, know or see. Wild ones, and traditional ones, I encourage you, do not reject that which does not fit to your image. Although it looks different, it will resonate with royal blood and Kingdom.
  9. Beware those that are young and brash in the spirit. Find mature ones who have withstood previous fires. Remain in community with those wise ones. Arrogant confidence, noisy ones with little to no depth, might provide acceptance and quick relief from loneliness, but you need those that have gone the distance in a previous season. Choose community wisely, for they will be your travelling buddies into the next.
  10. If you are still enduring storms – be still and know that he is God! Psalm 46:10.
  11. The first open door may not be into the King’s domain. Be wise before saying ‘yes’. The first door in sight may give shelter, but a false open door will cause you to strive for acceptance, and will require from you something that you can never produce. This year’s open doors are doors into places where we can thrive. There will be no need to strive nor perform.
  12. Beware settling for a place that says all the right things – it knows it is not the entire world, but believes it is The Best part of the world. It is heart that matters to God. All shades of loving God are acceptable to Him – Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Mystical…
  13. Beware places that limit your thinking and your vision for freedom to move in the things of the Spirit. Beware places that strive to keep you contained.
  14. The place of the Spirit may require some courage to step out into what may look like a winter season. It MAY LOOK LIKE a winter season, but is it? Know that transition can look like doing it alone for a period until your community comes. There is a positioning into community, tribe and tongue.
  15. Although tempting, do not give into a spirit of pity. Run your race, neither looking left nor right (Hebrews 12:1-3). The work that the Spirit is doing in this season is causing many of us to moult our previous plumage. This takes time and requires patience. The previous mantle is falling away and a new plumage of maturity is coming to the Body of Christ. The 5 fold gifts of Christ are stepping into their mandated position to train and equip (Ephesians 4:11-13) and people joyfully step into the Hebrews 5:14 mandate to train into maturity.
  16. See your tribe? Call out to them. Allow yourself to continue to grow, moult, and listen to the updraft of the Spirit. You too will learn to fly, if you but keep your eye on who you are and Whose you are.
  17. Learning to fly can be messy. You may upset others as you try. Keep looking for the open door to freedom, keep practising, keep doing what swans do.
  18. The entire process will bring you strength to be who you truly are – a swan.
  19. Do not fear the other swans – they will recognise you for who and Whose you are. True swans will call out the royal greatness in you. It is for you to then rise to the occasion and BE a swan.
  20. In finding our tribe, we will see who we truly are, our royal identity will come. No more comparison. Look into the waters of His Presence and we see our true selves:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:18 (NIV)

  1. Ultimately, the Ugly Duckling came to a place of being grateful for the journey he had gone on. Gratitude is key and humility, the doorway, for ‘a good heart never grows proud’ (The Ugly Duckling).

  2. Kingdom community will honour you for who you are and whose you are. As a swan, secure in your identity as a swan, you will be free and unafraid to honour others. In this, the World will see and know us by our love for one another (John 13:35).

It is our love for one another (not our uniformity) that creates a unity in the spirit. And love looks like seeing that each of us, and the church, is a swan.

And so the Lord says,

‘She’s not an ugly duckling; she’s a swan…’

‘My Bride is not an ugly duckling; she’s a swan…’

‘You are NOT an ugly duckling; you are a SWAN.’

And so, to look again at the photo. If she were to pull the glasses back from her face, she would see the numbers 2022. Looking at her in the photo, it was as if the year was backwards. We are in an upside-down, inside-out, Kingdom that sits outside of time. So in order to see the year, each other, and His Church, clearly, we must put on the year 2022 the way God views it.

‘She’s His Swan!’

God is calling us to cease seeing each other, or those different to ourselves, as ugly ducklings, for they are swans.

God is calling us to see ourselves as He sees us, for we, too, are swans.

God is calling us to see 2022 as it is – the year of the swan.

We are not in God’s (or the Church’s) ‘swan song!’*

He has only just begun.

Indeed, He invites us all to step into the fullness of our identity as the Bride and fly for…

2022 is not such an ugly duckling… it’s a swan!

*the last performance or activity of a person’s career

© Beth Kennedy 2022


‘Ugly Duckling’ as sung by Danny Kaye

The Hans Christian Andersen Centre’s website.

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