I had a lamb once when I was a kid. Notice I said once… One year of raising a lamb was enough for my dad, who is an expert at raising show steers not sheep. Sheep? We didn’t know much about raising those. The only reason we bought a lamb for show was that I was little, and the show steer my dad had bought me turned out to be wild. I was 9 years old, which is how old you have to be in order to compete at the fair. Me vs. a 1000 pound animal, my dad decided, was not a great match. So, he suggested showing a pig.
My dad was a high school ag teacher in addition to being a cattle rancher, and his teaching partner was the pig expert. I, being more of an expert in Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, the latest Jordache fashions, and jazz dance, turned up my dainty little nose at this suggestion. “Ew! A nasty, stinky hog?” I scoffed. Thus, enter the little lamb.
I named him Hungry Jack. Seem strange? Not if you know two things. I loved Hungry Jack biscuits, and my lamb ate his wooden fence. He ate the fence… He whittled that sucker down to almost nothing. It wasn’t like we weren’t feeding the thing either. He had plenty of food, water, and nice pasture, but apparently, the fence was an appetizing treat. Who knew?
I had heard that sheep had a reputation for not being the sharpest tools in the animal shed, and the state of the wooden fence was further evidence that this was the truth.
This lamb was…well…stupid.
Even if you’ve never been to church, you have likely heard the Bible verse Isaiah 53:6 quoted, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned-every one- to his own way.” In the Bible, Jesus is the “good shepherd” tending to his “sheep.” You’re no dummy. You can see exactly where I’m going with this can’t you?
We wander off sometimes. We need someone to lead us in the right direction. Sometimes we need protection from danger. Sometimes we simply do stupid things. Maybe we eat a fence when right in front of us is something way better. Well, I probably shouldn’t insult you, so I shall apologize and speak for myself. In the past, I have made some really stupid choices.
Let me just affirm the fact that while I am intelligent and well educated, I have done some really dumb shit in my lifetime already. Like, really…really dumb. Exhibit A- husband number two… Exhibit B… ex- boyfriend Sirswipesrightalot… Exhibit C… blindly trusting Exhibits A and B. I rest my stupid case!
I’ve wandered down paths I try hard not to regret, especially when it comes to relationships and love. There was a time when I should have stayed, and I left. There was a time when I should have fought, and I quit. There was also a time when I should have left, and I stayed. I should have given up, but I stubbornly refused to walk away. There have been times I have closed my ears and chanted a spiritual “lalalalalala! I can’t HEAR you” to God. I am not too proud to admit that there have been times that I have acted like a spoiled, stubborn brat while I’m sure God shook his head, waiting for me to come back to my senses. I did, and I am thankful that in spite of my stupidity, God still loves me.
I will say the best lesson I have learned from making bad decisions is humility. Humility and mercy. I no longer see myself as better or worse than anyone else. I see myself as a person who tried her best, but on her own fell short of perfection.
The truth is, no one is perfect. We are all flawed and in need of grace, which should only serve to make us try our best to love others instead of judge them. Judging others is simply not our job. My new mantra has become, “Judge none. Love all.” This includes myself because as many mistakes as we may make, not forgiving yourself or someone who has hurt you may be the biggest mistake of all.
I’m sure you’re also familiar with the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd goes to look for that one that is lost and return him to the fold. Yes, God loves us, even when we make really bad decisions. He loves us when we walk the line, and he loves us when we fight it or even try to erase the line. He loves us when we’re “good” or “bad.”
I don’t think he’s up there with a red pen and a naughty list checking it twice. I think he is looking for a humble heart, a seeking heart, and an honest heart.
I hope God is looking for a teachable heart because at this point in my life, I know there is simply so much I don’t know. I think God knows that sometimes, we’re even going to be so stupid we’ll try to eat the very fences meant to keep us safe, just like old Hungry Jack.
Whatever happened to Hungry Jack ? Honestly I don’t even know. I do know when I stepped into the dusty show ring back in 1984, that lamb stepped on my purple Keds tennis shoe. I spent the entire time in the ring trying to hold Hungry Jack, lead him around the show ring, and keep my shoe from falling off my foot. Why I made the terrible decision to wear tennis shoes instead of boots into the show ring I don’t really remember. I’m guessing it likely had to do with color coordination with my shirt. Whatever it was, all I remember is that I came in last place and my daddy swore it was the last time we would ever show a blankety, blankety sheep!
So Hungry Jack , wherever you are, please known that yes, even as stupid as you were, if you were lost, I would totally come after you, splintered lamb lips and all.