Tractor Tale

Yesterday was a beautiful day to get a jump start on cutting next year’s supply of firewood, so we headed back to the woods to cut up the downed trees.  My husband is the chainsaw guy, so his job was to cut the logs into the correct lengths for our wood stove.  Our children and I then loaded the logs into the “scoop” of our old John Deere 2010 and I then drove the tractor out of the woods and dumped the logs into a pile in the field.  This last step keeps us from possibly getting bogged down in the muddy lane once the ground thaws, which makes it really difficult to get the logs up to the house for splitting.

I don’t know how many loads I hauled yesterday–maybe six or seven.  I love it, though.  I love driving the tractor, I love being in the woods and I love time with my family.  I also really, really enjoy winter, and yesterday was a beauty–blue skies and low 30s.  The dogs were chasing squirrels, and we were getting stuff done.  I felt strong and peaceful. To sum up all of these warm, fuzzy feelings, I decided I’d take a picture of one of my treks through the woods to share on social media.

Why?

I really don’t know, but it seems to be the thing to do, so I did.  Here it is…

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I don’t know exactly what I was hoping to prove with that shot, but I bet it was something really, really important.

Here’s the funny thing.  As I was slowly driving through the forest, thinking about social media and the remarkable impact the above photo would have on dozens, I lost focus of my purpose.  There was a near casualty.

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Yeah…I nicked this little guy with my front-end loader.  Poor tree.

So, now you have two photos of my forest experience.  Both of them show something I did.  Neither one is the whole story; they are each part of a bigger picture.  The first one illustrates what I intended for you to see–me, driving a tractor, being productive, capable and competent.  The second shot shows what I immediately wanted to hide–me, driving a tractor, being careless, destructive and self-centered.

How often do we focus on one snapshot or the other instead of the big picture?  Are we creating a false perception for others based on the pictures we selectively show to our “friends”?  Are we creating a false image of our marriages, our parenting skills, our financial successes, our housekeeping victories or even our faith?  What damage are we doing to the people around us while we oh-so-carefully cultivate our perfect images for a bunch of virtual friends who don’t even care?

It’s worth considering.

On the other hand, are we so focused on the mistakes we make that we cannot take pleasure in any of our accomplishments?  Are we so focused on some nebulous standard that we continually berate ourselves for even the slightest variation of our version of perfection?

This is pride, my friends.  When we are wholly focused on ourselves–on what we can or cannot do, regardless of the reason–we are acting out of self-centeredness.  Call it what you will–poor self-image, martyrdom or low self-esteem–it is of no good to anyone.

And, it’s no fun to live with–for us or for the people forced to live in our bubble.

These were my thoughts as I putt-putted back and forth through the woods yesterday.  Even with the tractor’s engine rattling, these were quiet moments of reflection and introspection for my heart. Have I lost my focus?  What am I called to share?  When am I called to be quiet?  Who am I trying to impress and how would my time and energy be best spent?  How often should I just log off for a while to invest in the precious circle that is closest to my heart?  I want to be honest about the bigger picture–the good and the bad in my life–so that God can be made known.  He will waste nothing if I let Him use it.

Lord, thank You for the opportunities you have given to me.  Please give me wisdom in using my resources to Your greatest purpose.

 

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