Be careful what you wish for

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The rain came in sheets reducing visibility to near zero.  The dark clouds made it seem like nightfall had come an hour early.   When I left the office at 1 am it had been raining hard for almost 9 hours. 

Southwest Georgia had been in the middle of a severe drought for the past few months.  Parts of the county had not received rain in over 60 days.  Ponds were drying up, the rivers were down, and we had an additional 5 feet of new sandy beach at Compass Lake.

People were praying for rain.  Reports of the drought extending into next year were on television and newspapers.   “I sure wish it would rain” was the most common comment heard at the local coffee shops.   

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Monday the rains came.  A couple of months’ worth of normal rainfall in the space of one 12 hour period.   It was difficult to determine the exact amount of rain in different locations because almost everyone’s rain gauge had overflowed.  The most common estimates were 11 to 12 inches. 

In my first year farming, at the ripe old age of 13, my brother and I planted and acre and a half of tomatoes on the edge of town at a farm my grandfather owned.   I would ride my bicycle to the farm every day to watch the tomato plants grow.  Ernest, my brother, preferred to go when he absolutely had to go, thinking that watching plants grow every day was a waste of time.

The plants became green and bushy and then the tomatoes came.  At the same time, the rain stopped.   We literally had billions of tomatoes but they were all the size of grapes.   

We harvested exactly one box of tomatoes off that field, giving me an early lesson on the risks of dry land farming.

We gathered our friends and had a tomato war of epic proportions.  If you have known me for very long, you have likely heard me tell the story of this legendary tomato war already.   

I promised God and myself that if it ever rained again, I would not complain.  The weather is beyond my control and I am just grateful when we receive the moisture that sustains us.  I have kept that promise for almost 50 years.   I may wish for more or less rain, but I don’t complain about it.   

There are lot of things that we wish for without thinking about the results.  In the winter, we want warm weather, only to complain when it becomes too hot.   We want to see the pretty fall leaves only to complain when we have to rake them up.   We long for spring and the budding flowers only to complain about the pollen.

There is an old proverb that says instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.   We would all be much happier if we could find ways to see the roses in our lives.

We might start by making a short list of things we are grateful for in our lives.  If something is bothering you, either fix it or accept that nothing can be done right now.   In that case, complaining is a wasted effort.   Train yourself to be less judgmental.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. 

After hours of torrential rains, high winds and tornado warnings, I awoke this morning to a spectacularly beautiful day.  The earth’s thirst has been quenched and the sky is a brilliant blue. 

In the last 24 hours I could have complained that it has not rained, that it has rained too much, that the pool is full of leaves, or that my eggs were overcooked.   These things would have happened whether I wished for them to happen or not and no amount of complaining will change anything.

Instead, I think I will just be grateful to be alive, healthy and happy.   I couldn’t wish for anything more than that.