Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations unplanned, dark and without hope. We feel a lot like one particular donkey who found himself down in his circumstances and fighting for his life. How he responded to his despair and hopelessness is a lesson worth pondering.
The Donkey’s Choice
One day a farmer’s donkey fell into an abandoned well.
The animal cried mercilessly for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do in order to save the animal. Finally, he arrived at the fateful decision to let this old and worn out animal, be covered up and given a proper burial. It wasn’t worth the time and trouble to pull him out.
So he invited his friends and neighbors to come help bury this old beast of burden.
They each grabbed a shovel and began to throw dirt down into the well. Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first started to wail and cry even louder. Then, a few shovelfuls later, things down the well got real quiet. Had he succumbed to the inevitable fate that had come upon him?
The farmer cautiously leaned over the edge of the well and looked down. What he saw shocked him!
With every shovelful of dirt that hit the donkey’s back, he was doing an amazing thing. He was shaking off the dirt and taking a step up onto each new layer of dirt. The more dirt they threw at him, the higher he climbed. Pretty soon, with each new shovel full of dirt and each determined step, the donkey’s head appeared, then his body, followed by his legs. He came bounding out of the well with a strength the farmer hadn’t seen for years.
People stood in astonishment and cheered as the donkey trotted out of that well and started eating some grass to regain his strength.
When Life Shovels Dirt
At times in life, life and circumstances shovel dirt on our head. How we respond can make a world of difference.
This week some dirt fell on my head. I was gearing up for surgery #9 when the phone rang with the news it had been bumped due to a trauma case taking priority. The dominos fell and I was in the line just a few patients down. “Your surgery most likely won’t be in this calendar year,” continued the message.
Initially, I whined and voiced my disappointment and frustration. I had things all planned out! Surgery, recovery, perfect timing to break from work again for three months, a flight booked for my sister’s visit, training events planned just after I get back to work. Then I found myself looking up from a well. I even woke up in the middle of the night, angry at the whole thing.
Then I started to see some light. I had most likely bumped others waiting for their surgery. I arrived by helicopter once. Someone else made space for me. Now it’s my turn to do the same.
Just like that donkey I can and will choose to shake the dirt off my back and take a step up onto each new layer of dirt as it falls.
Seven simple rules for climbing out of a well:
- Acknowledge the falling dirt.
- Release your emotions (anger, disappointment, frustration, fear)
- Choose to not give up but STEP UP onto the dirt.
- Focus on what you can do (work, love, help, give, pray, care, wait, laugh)
- Turn your worries, uncertainty, and fears over to God
- List the things you’re grateful for.
- Lower your expectations and enjoy life NOW!
What’s the well you have fallen into and the dirt falling on your head?
What do you need to choose to step out of that well?
Image source: Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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