by Annette Meyer
Those Aha! moments in life usually stop me in my tracks for good reason!
Back in the 1970’s, the Farmer and I were in the beginning stages of building a small family farm enterprise. The original idea was to supplement the family’s income by having a milk cow, maintaining a small flock of chickens, and raising a steer for meat. Having grown up in the country I was comfortable with the “why buy something when you can just grow it yourself” lifestyle.
Animals must be fed, so we rented land for pasture, to grow feed grains and corn, make hay to feed the cattle and to have a summertime garden. I loved gardening and storing enough home-canned produce to get us through the winter cold. The aromas and flavors of home grown foods always takes me right back to the warm freshness of summertime’s bounty, adding that extra special something as we savored our meals on cold winter nights!
We started this family endeavor on a pay-as-you-go fraying shoestring budget, acquiring several John Deere tractors to handle the field work. A collection of antiquated equipment was purchased at farm auctions or from other farmers in the area as they wanted to upgrade. Our farm was a sideline “hobby” that quickly took up most of the extra hours after the paying jobs were done. Sundays were almost always used for a full workday outside, plowing, spreading a week’s worth of cow manure, planting, mowing, reaping, harvesting, loading hay wagons and driving miles from one rented field to the next to accomplish it all. By the end of each summer the grain bins were filled, the haymow would be stuffed full, the pantry shelves were stocked.
When the brisk cold autumn days arrived, the field corn crop was soon ready to harvest. Everyone, adults and children alike bundled up and picked long rows of field corn by hand until a two-row corn picker could be acquired.
It was a busy time and we all worked hard; this was to help the family. It wasn’t all work and no play for us by any means, there were a lot of positives to be shared as well, but with that aged equipment, and all the road wear, it required constant maintenance. In my mind’s eye, there always seemed to be at least one green tractor parked in the barn bay with something being torn apart and put back together.
The arduous schedule of juggling a full time job and doing the farm work on the side took up a lot of the Farmer’s free time. Mornings and evenings would be spent on daily barn work chores, then additional hours were often soaked up working on equipment.
Of course, I was just as busy as he was with my own job, managing a household, helping with barn work when needed and raising our young children. Eventually, I got into a bad attitude about the Farmer’s absences from being a fulltime father and husband. The Farm, as it was known, was a stressor.
Years passed. With a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed throughout the family, the farming enterprise was blessed and grew into an 85 acre full-blown dairy farm.
One afternoon a decade or so later as the Farmer and I traveled along, an old country song came on the truck radio.
The singer crooned, “I worked 10 hours on a John Deere tractor just thinking of you all day”.
I glanced over and saw the Farmer smiling as he listened, silently lost in his own memories. As the song ended he commented, “That’s one of my favorite songs.”
Instantly flashing back to those early years filled with his hard labor, dirty barn clothes, greasy hands, smelly gasoline spills, the animal odors, and all the time he had spent out in the shop working on those John Deere tractors, I was confused and astonished, maybe even a little bit disgusted at the harshness of my memory.
“What ARE you talking about? How can you possibly enjoy that song that much?” I wondered.
He looked surprised. “While I listen to that song I’m out there in the field completely alone with my thoughts, the sun is shining warm. Around me I hear the birds singing, the sweet smells of Springtime coming on the cool breeze blowing across my skin. The greenest colors glistening all around me. As I plow I breathe in the smell of fresh turned soil. I pray and reflect on our blessings while I’m putt-putting along on the tractor. I love how everything is just so peaceful and serene. That song always takes me back there.”
“I worked 10 hours on a John Deere tractor, just thinking of you all day.”
I was flabbergasted to hear his point of view!
I sat deep in thought for the rest of our journey reassessing how he and I could see this song so differently. Upon reflection, I realized that my own definition of “working ten hours on a John Deere tractor” was strongly linked to my negative attitude at that time. The song reminded me of the greasy, tedious repairs, pinching pennies to buy parts, bloody knuckles, the long hours spent fetching gas or handing him tools as he “worked on” maintaining those John Deere tractors.
In all those years since, it had never once occurred to me that it could be seen in a different light! That startling realization actually took my breath away.
Thank you Father for the lesson learned; perspective matters a lot!
My own definition of “working” on a John Deere tractor was all about the greasy, tedious repairs on those John Deere tractors, while The Farmer’s perspective of working on the tractor was completely opposite of mine!
His was all about the joyfulness of embracing the beauty and freedom of this farm lifestyle that we had eagerly chosen together! Our memories were on opposite ends of the spectrum.
My focus had settled upon the dark and negative. Compared to his willingly envisioning this as a bright and beautifully positive experience; wow, what a sad trap I had fallen into.
Perspective matters! My Aha! moments always stop me in my tracks! Since that very day I am constantly reminded to pause often and consider whether there’s possibly another way of seeing situations.
I love those Aha! moments that define and refine my own faith walk. They come as an answer to prayers asking to be allowed to see all things through HIS eyes so that I might not falter as I am being perfected.
I pray the blessing for many positive Aha! moments for us all!