Andrea visited earlier this week and was telling me of how stressed she felt by constantly catering to the needs of people around her. I have known Andrea a long time and she is without doubt a people-pleaser.
For many years she served as a volunteer member of the board of directors of a non-profit organization and her time was filled with trying to please everyone around her.
As she sat across from me the exhaustion and stress of this continual desire to satisfy the agendas of others came through with obvious intensity.
And as I listened to her tell me of the challenges inherent in the lives of all those who try their darnedest to please everyone, I was reminded of a story I had heard many, many years ago.
A long time ago, in a little village far, far away, an old man – a very old man – set out with his grandson and donkey on an expedition to the market some 10 or 12 miles away.
About an hour into the journey as they were trotting along a well-worn path they came across a group of travelers, mostly young mothers pushing strollers, heading in the opposite direction.
These women immediately surrounded them and began berating the old man. “Shame, shame,” they said, “You are a terrible man. Here you are walking this great distance with your young grandson who is merely a child, barely 4 years old, and you are forcing him to walk this great distance. Let him ride on the donkey”
Startled by the intensity of their anger the old man lifted his grandson on to the donkey and they continued on their way.
It was but a short while later that they came across a group of young men – mostly teenagers – out hunting. They too surrounded the old man, his grandson and donkey and directed their anger towards his grandson. “Young man,” they screamed, “you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Here you are sitting comfortably on the back of the donkey while your grandfather, a very old, frail, tired man, is forced to walk alongside you. Get down off the donkey and let him ride.”
The young lad hastily scrambled down from the donkey, the old man took his place and they continued on their way.
A few miles down the road they came across yet another group. This bunch was a mixed bag of fun-loving twenty-somethings and they approached our family and in an jeering and mocking manner, questioning why only the old man was riding atop the donkey when there was ample room for both of them which would would allow them to arrive at their destination rested and refreshed rather than exhausted.
Once again, the young boy climbed up on the donkey and positioned himself behind his grandfather and they continued on their way.
About 2 miles from the market they came across a group of middle-aged folks who were out walking their dogs on leashes. They approached the donkey and angrily demanded informed them that they were animal lovers and they were horrified at the abuse being heaped upon this poor animal.
“Do you not see the pain you are inflicting on this poor creature. This animal was not made to carry two people. Surely you will break its back and it will die a slow agonizing death. Can you not see the poor animal is exhausted?
“Get down from the donkey and treated it with respect for we are animal lovers and animals, like humans, deserve dignity.”
The old man and his grandson climbed down and gently lifted the donkey onto their shoulders and they continued on their way.
They soon arrived at a bridge which was merely a few hundred yards from the market. As they were crossing the bridge the young boy slipped and the donkey fell from their shoulders. It rolled off the side of the bridge and fell hundreds of feet into the icy water below where it immediately drowned and was washed away by the rushing stream.
The moral of the story: If you spend your life trying to please everyone, you will end up losing your ass.
I hope Andrea reads this.
Till we read again
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