Our two dogs are hunters by avocation, “man’s best friend” when they’re not on the prowl.
On any given day, remnants of their most recent hunting expedition can be found on our front lawn. Such was the case on a beautiful late summer evening recently. As I rolled along on my riding mower, making my perfectly straight paths, I spotted a pile of feathers up ahead. Actually, I smelled them before I saw them.
You have a couple of choices when coming upon one of their specimens:
- make a wide swath around said item and hope Husband disposes of it later
- mow right over it as if it doesn’t exist (don’t laugh — I’ve done this with deer skeletons)
- stop the mower, get off, find a shovel, hold your breath, scoop it up and carry it across the road to the ditch
None of these are pleasant options. Even swinging wide to miss the pile, it still stinks. This time, I decided to get rid of the offensive heap. It took several scoops and more than one trip across the road, but I managed to do the deed without losing my dinner.
Back on the mower, I got to thinking about how often we come upon stinky messes that need to be dealt with in life. We can be rolling along, making fine work of the tasks before us, when something unpleasant suddenly looms on the horizon.
It could be someone’s bad attitude, bad choices or bad news. It might be our own mistakes, hurtful words, misunderstandings.
If left to fester in the heat of the day, the mess will begin to stink. But still, we will dance around that stinky mess, avoiding it, even turning away to leave it for someone else to clean up. Or we’ll hold our noses and just pretend it isn’t there.
Over time, the stinky mess may actually rot away, becoming nothing more than a pile of dry debris. But there will be scars in the landscape. Weeds will grow over the mess and the stench will fade, but only after we’ve wasted time in denial and avoidance. And we’ll still know it was there and we didn’t deal with it.
Okay, this analogy may be a bit of a stretch, but imagine a lawn full of stinky carcasses — or a life littered with messes we’ve tried to ignore.
Scriptures that I turn to over and over are found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. There is so much good instruction in Romans for dealing with life’s inevitable messes. The one I hang my hat on is this:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
As simple — and as complicated — as that. Live at peace with everyone. There’s a limit to what you can do about someone else’s messes (though it’s good to keep a shovel handy) but you can do your part and deal with your own messes before they begin to stink.
And keep the peace.