I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the old saying that someone is as “stubborn as a mule”. Today, that is considered a personal dig that is meant to indicate that someone is rigid or inflexible, unwilling to compromise for the greater good. Yet it wasn’t always used in that context.
The adage comes from a parable about a farmer who owned an old mule. One day, the mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ hysterically in fear at the bottom of the long dark shaft and came out to assess the situation.
After great debate, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well could be saved. The mule was far too heavy to lift as the supports would surely cave if he tried to pull the mule out, and the water source would be ruined with the carcass of the deceased mule left in place.
So the farmer called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery. He thought better to suffocate than to die of starvation.
Initially, as the people began to hurl dirt into the well, the old mule became even more hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck the mule like a lightening rod.
It dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he should shake it off and step up! And so he did exactly that, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated the words to encourage himself.
No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed to be, the old mule fought back the urge to panic and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him- all because of the manner in which he handled adversity.
Monday Morning Perspective
“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” -John D. Rockefeller
“Courage and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” -John Quincy Adams
“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
If we face our problems, respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity, the adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us.
We may not control the situation, but we do control our reaction to it. And it will be our reaction that will frequently determine the outcome. Perhaps being “stubborn as a mule” has an apt place in the content of our character when we are faced with adversity!
May we discover our own strength as we “shake off the shackles and step up out of the wells” in which we find ourselves!
Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2012. All rights reserved.