As summer approaches, my wife, Jennifer, and I are working more on our yard; we find it a shared experience we enjoy. I’m hardly a rabid environmentalist, but I want our little slice of this earth to be attractive and inviting for those times when friends come over.
Working on our yard is a getaway for each of us and we are just now, 10 years into marriage, figuring this out. I grew up playing golf and love well-maintained courses; while our yard will never be like a golf course, we have nicknamed one dumpy area that needs work, “Augusta,” after perhaps the most beautiful golf course on the planet. It’s our way of saying, “We can do this!”
The other day, I purchased nine cubic yards of mulch for several areas that need some help. If you want to know how much nine cubic yards is, it is a lot of poopy smelling chips, I can tell you that.
As I started loading the mulch into our wheelbarrow, my 8-year-old son, Josh, began using a snow shovel (rarely used in Tennessee, but we have one) to load some scoops as well. He wanted to help and was doing his best.
Soon however, Jennifer brought a newly bought giant shovel to me—one too big for him to easily handle—and when I started loading with mega-shovel, a few quick scoops loaded the wheelbarrow. He noticed this, quickly.
Before I realized it, Josh left to go inside. I was focused on the job (we men do not multi-task) and didn’t think twice about it. But in a few minutes, Jennifer came outside to let me know, Josh was not happy with the new development.
Josh told Jennifer, “I wanted to do something to make a difference, but dad can load up the wheelbarrow in just five scoops. He doesn’t need me at all.”
Ahhhh. Josh saw himself as unnecessary. In his mind, he no longer mattered.
I told Jennifer to send Josh outside and said to him, “Josh, I need you. I can pick up the mulch, but I need someone who can spread this mulch in between those bushes. I can’t get behind there without hurting my back (very true) and you can make this project take off if you will jump in there and get the job done.”
Josh lit up. Within a minute, he learned his task and went to work. For as long as it took, we worked side by side; spreading mulch, talking through the job, with each of us telling the other, “I’ll get this” or “Have you got that area over there?”
Two hours later, we were both dirty, somewhat tired, but satisfied. The areas around our bushes were transformed with rich, black mulch, highlighting the greenery close to our home.
As I write, we still have more than half of our mulch waiting for us in the driveway. Some will go to “Augusta,” more will surround two stately, 150-year-old trees in our front yard. I’ve no doubt Josh will be right there with me, every step of the way.
Why? Because he grasped a simple truth: There is more than one way to make a difference. Once he figured this out, he would not be stopped. Now, this is a “we” project for him, not a matter of watching dad do what he could not yet accomplish.
One day, the big shovel will be his, and I told him so. “I’ve got 53 years of lifting experience to help me do this,” I said. “You have eight, but your day is coming very soon.” He liked hearing that.
Tweet This: There is more than 1 way to make a difference. Learn that & you can't be stopped. @KirkWalden #prolife
In the Pregnancy Help Community, it is easy to get focused on what we can’t do. We compare ourselves, seeing “that” center or ministry as more effective because it is larger or has more services. Or we compare ourselves with the abortion industry and silently tell ourselves we can’t really compete because they have more funds or more political connections.
We should always aspire to something greater than what we are, certainly. I don’t want Josh thinking he will never wield the large shovel. Fact is, one day he most certainly will.
But as he looks forward to the day when he can do everything related to mulching, today he—and we—must focus on what we can do, and do so with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds and our strength.
We need to stop worrying about what we cannot do at a particular moment in time. Instead, we must place all of our attention on what we can. When we pour our energy into the “can do,” the “not yet” doesn’t get us down because we know we are trending in the right direction.
Let’s advance with what we can do, perhaps even listing our strengths and making sure we are operating in those strengths. We should do this corporately and individually.
We have what some would claim is a daunting, almost unfathomable task in front of us, which includes making abortion unthinkable in our society. That’s a lot of mulch to spread. Today however, all we must do is what we can do.
Tomorrow we will do the same. And one day, we will find the “can do” has replaced all of the “can’t yet.” And our mission is accomplished.
My yard has a long way to go before I can even deem it “average.” It is 1.6 acres of standing water, rocks, poison ivy and weeds upon weeds. I can’t fix it all. But tomorrow I begin to tackle “Augusta,” and with a few hours of work, it will be prettier than it is today.
Update: The following day, Josh was ready to take on the mighty shovel. You can see by the photo below.