“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4
My friend turned from the sink puzzled. “Pardon me for asking, but why are you memorizing a verse about an ox?”
I was happy to tell her and I’m happy to tell you because in the years when I was knee deep in ankle-biters, overwhelmed by the work a family requires, this principle saved my sanity.
Back before the days of fancy tractors, the man of the house could do the hauling and plowing himself or he could employ the strength of an ox. The plus side of NOT owning an ox is that your trough would stay clean. (I’m not a fan of cleaning tubs & showers, so I’ll admit that sounds attractive…) But obviously that limits your harvest because as much as our guys would like to be, they aren’t really “as strong as an ox”.
The down side of owning an ox is that you’d have a mucky trough because these grass-munching, hard-working, slobbery creatures need to drink to do all that hard work. But with the increase in goober and grit comes a proportionate increase in gain. As a sleep-deprived, toddler wrangler, I was so encouraged by this verse because it provided proper perspective:
Instead of looking around my house and grumbling at the mess, the laundry & the meals,
I could focus on the increase of love and delight I was reaping because of my family’s presence.
It’s all how I choose to look at things. Will I grumble at the trough or be glad at the abundance it enables?
We’ve had some struggles with the Grumbly vs. Glad battle in our house, so this little verse has helped us remember this matter of perspective. I’ll include it in hopes that it might help your family too:
Scarlett was a lovely girl. No one could deny.
But little things throughout her day would make her whine and cry.
To go to bed, to take a bath, to tidy up her room,
She’d slump her shoulders, plump her lip and scrunch her face with gloom.
“I have to go?”, or “This is it?”, or “Can’t I have more time?”,
Or “He got more than me – NO FAIR!” She’d holler, pout and whine.
Scarlett’s mama hugged her close and murmured with a kiss,
“My dear, by looking at the bad, there’s so much good you miss!”
“Everyone has glasses: A Glad and Grumbly pair.
And every day we have the choice of which ones we will wear.”
But Scarlett would wake up each day and grab those grumbly glasses.
And everything would make her sad; her art, her chores, her classes.
Tired of Scarlett’s spectacles, fewer friends would call.
“Perhaps it’s not acceptable to grumble after all!”
So early that next morning, Scarlett’s Grumbly glasses stayed!
And in their place, the Glad pair sparkled, brightening Scarlett’s day…
Instead of huffy puffing when she had to clean her room,
So thankful for her pretty space, she gladly got the broom!
Instead of throwing hits or fits when sister got more sweets,
So pleased with any goodie, she’d enjoy the smaller treats!
Instead of whiny whimpering as mom got off the bed,
Scarlett felt so grateful they had snuggled, talked and read.
A happy Scarlett placed her glasses safely for the night,
Then took those grumbly glasses – and tucked them out of sight!
So when I look at today…
- I can grumble at refereeing another squabble or I can be glad I get to shape these Littles into Bigs who might impact, brighten and bless this world.
- I can grumble at the rowdy voices, or I can be glad those same voices are in my life and also murmur sweetness and make me giggle.
- I can grumble about my husband calling (again) when I’m trying to unload the groceries, or I can be glad that I’m the woman my husband wants to share his day with.
- I can grumble at the shoes in the middle of the mudroom floor, or I can be glad those shoes made their way home again.
What about you? Which pair will you wear?