Anyone who has known me for any length of time has probably heard me talk about seeds. I fully believe that with both work and our personal lives, everything we do is a seed.
Everything we attempt, pitch or put together is a seed. It’s up to God to make it grow into the right thing and at the right time. Some seeds may be fruit that will sustain us. Others might grow into a beautiful flower that blesses us for a season. I always pray that God helps keep me focused on the right things so I don’t spend too much time tending weeds.
So when one of my clients, L.E. Taylor , submitted this article to me for his blog, I immediately asked him if I could share it with my own readers. No matter how busy you may be today, this one’s worth the read.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was hurting. Younger than I by a dozen years, he appeared to be older. “Davey” (not his real name) was nearly crippled by diabetes and its side effects. I made it a point to visit him at least five days a week to go for a drive or to get groceries, to sit in the park and talk about baseball, politics, or nothing. I would call Davey around noon to ask if his afternoon was free. Deeply depressed by his infirmities and by his loneliness and by his apparent failure to ‘get a break,’ Davey would reply with the same lament, “I’ve got no place to go and no way to get there.”
He was also broke.
One day he told me he’d made a list of all his damages as a way of determining the size of the mountain he must climb.
That seemed a poor investment of time and effort. But I’ve learned that sermonizing from a lofty position of apparent stability serves little benefit for one afflicted with misfortune, nor does it help a friendship. So I’d just listen and nod.
When a person, whether genuinely debilitated or just in a funk, invests his spiritual capital in self-pity, I believe the grave he’s dug has to be climbed out of by the guy with the shovel.
One day I’d enjoyed as much of my friend’s whining as I cared to, and I gently steered the conversation away from his liabilities and toward his assets. I suggested he try a new tack; that he keep a “Gratitude Journal,” a place where he could jot down all the good and worthy parts of his short stay in this imperfect world.
Whenever he found his mind-talk going sour, which was about every-other minute, he could make himself write one true observation about anything that he had going for him, anything at all. Friends, sunshine, shoes, a roof. Oxygen. Life.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Pollyanna! New Age mumbo-jumbo… classic avoidance-and-denial… the old positive thinking nostrum.
Consider another cliché – the old programmer’s axiom:
“Garbage in, garbage out.”
Self-sabotage is real. Negative thinking is not only easy and lazy; it’s also contagious. You have the power to louse up your productive mind by fooling it into despair and resentment.
With practice and mental toughness, though, any of us can tap into our latent power to change things. But first, Step One: Take out the garbage.
I get dozens of personal e-mails in the course of a day or two. The gloom is suffocating. Many of the gripes about this screwed up fool’s play are valid, so is much of the incriminating evidence: The “scandals” are shameful, not phony…. the media-incited race-baiting is toxic… violent crime is rampant and anarchy is palpable… families are out of work and the terror of financial ruin is real in millions of households.
It’s a mess. Yes.
We are done as a nation. No. If you believe that, you don’t know your history. Check out 1776… 1777… 17 – get it?
You are in charge of your thoughts. These may not be taken away by mere men. For whatever rationalization, “they” don’t have that right. Others have only as much power over you or me as we give them.
There was a time when every day, every hour, every ringing telephone brought trouble. Gradually (and painfully) I learned how to emasculate the terror. I learned to nourish my soul and my mind by dwelling upon what I had going for me, and to let the devil take the rest. Worst case, the crap would still be around tomorrow if I wanted to wallow in it.
For some time, I’ve tried to do what I asked the ailing Davey to try. I’m writing all the time. Often just to myself. On scraps of paper, on legal pads, on 3×5 cards. Sometimes on my wrist. It flushes the garbage out of my gourd and into daylight so I don’t have to lug it around, eating at me. Now there’s clarity. I can see what has to be nourished… and watered.
What if one morning – or one dark midnight – I went to pay my troubles a visit and found they’d withered for want of my attention and had been replaced by a wildflower-covered field of blessings.