Several years ago, I heard a sermon that has always stayed with me. The speaker was talking about putting aside your own wishes and wants to go the extra mile for someone else. "His opening statement was,"do it even if you don't feel like it".
We live in a society that says that we should come first and others second. In theory, they seem to be right, but it doesn't always make you happy or content. In fact, most of the time you are miserable.
It is very evident that in the past 30 years or so, our world has completely changed. What was clear areas of black and white have become gray. The consequences to crossing the line was swift and sure.
We didn't need heroes or mentors, we had our parents, teachers, law enforcement and God.
Every year, my dad would have a spring cleaning of the home place. This was not raking a few leaves, hauling a couple bags of garbage or power-washing the siding on the house. This was "WORK". First of all, we all participated. Married children too. The shop was cleaned and organized. Usually someone got on the tractor with the blade and smoothed out the driveway. The garden was plowed after a winter interlude with horses occupying the space to fertilize the next bumper crop of fresh vegetables.
One of the most hated jobs was cleaning out the horse stalls. there were several layers of manure accumulated from the winter months and for a few years, we didn't seem to possess a wheel barrow, so most of it was hauled to the manure pile by a metal garbage can.
One summer, Dad had started growing beans. When you switched from pasture or any other crop to beans, you have a massive amount of weeds. To earn money for church camp and new sleeping bags, my sister and I were supposed to weed 100 rows of those beans. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were 100 weeds for every bean plant in that field. There were days when Bev and I would sit down in the dirt and cry. The job seemed so endless and pointless to us. Other times, we would have contests to see who could pull out the biggest weed with the roots still intact. That might seem silly to you, but some of those weeds were huge and the roots were wider than a dinner plate. We did complete that job, but sadly, the weeds had already began to grow back in the first rows.
Our lives have become complicated instead of easier. I think that we have allowed the manure to fill up in our living spaces. The weeds in the field are reminders that we haven't protected the most important crop of the field, our children and their future.
I am not saying that your feelings shouldn't matter, but what really matters is that there are too many voices demanding their own way and too few workers dedicated to keeping the stalls clean and the fields clear.
There is an entire generation that has never experienced hardship. They are given cars on their 16th Birthday, they expect new clothes that have the right labels and cell phones and electronics whose price tag is more than a weeks wages for some.
We worked hard growing up, but we played too. Looking back,those were the easy years. You knew what you were working for. The reward wasn't instant, but it it was a sure thing if you were diligent.
There will always be people who are thorns in our sides and the demands on our lives with work and family never seem to end. Shockingly, we might even be more polite to a stranger on the street than to our own family members.
So where do we start? A true accounting of yourself will yield some surprising revelations. My husband David has to be one of the most patient and diplomatic people alive. I remember being alone without children for the first time in our marriage and realizing that there were times that I got on his nerves. I said something to him about this and his reply was, "you mean you finally noticed?"
What job do you avoid doing because you don't feel like it? Is it as simple as folding your husband's socks or as complicated as working at a job that you hate? Whatever the circumstances, we have to move beyond ourselves and go the extra mile in every aspect of our lives.