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deer A

I live in a part of the country where we have woods, four seasons, and not surprisingly, deer. Like all of God’s creatures, deer are a mixed bag.  They are beautiful, elegant creatures.  But they are also herbivores.  So, you have to be careful what you plant in your yard.  Otherwise, your flower garden becomes the deer’s version of a large salad.

This weekend, in an effort to keep the deer off his property, my neighbor erected a long, unsightly mesh fence in-between our yards. He is at war with the deer who are nibbling on some of his trees and bushes.  The fence is ugly, and I am going to have to look at it all summer.

The problem is that when you live in the woods, trying to keep the deer out of your yard is like trying to stop the sun from rising in the morning and setting in the evening. It is futile.  All you can do is to enjoy their beauty and plant things that they don’t like to eat.

All of us operate like my neighbor in certain areas of our lives. We fight against reality, when it is futile.  We do that in our relationships.  For example, you may know someone who is selfish.  Some people are simply selfish by nature. If you have to deal with a selfish person, you can choose to appreciate that person’s other qualities and ignore their selfishness.  Or you can choose to stop dealing with that person altogether.  But fighting against that person’s selfish nature is a waste of time.  You can’t fix other people.

We sometimes fight against reality with our employment. I once worked for a non-profit which was a textbook case of how not to manage an organization.  The CEO would fall apart at the smallest problem and start swearing at the staff.  The male CFO periodically would stop by my office and hold my hands.  He claimed that he needed to check whether my hands were cold to see if the thermostat needed adjusting.  And my boss continually came up with pointless, “big ideas” for others to implement.  It was a disaster.

The whole time I worked for this non-profit, I would go home and complain that it was a mess. Some days, I was beyond aggravated.  However, my attitude was silly.  I should have accepted the fact that the place was run by goofballs.  Then I would have been left with two choices: Accept the bad management and enjoy the job for its good parts (my staff and the opportunity to serve the poor).  Or find another job.  Instead I chose to fight reality.

As parents, we may fight against reality with regard to our children. Our kids are who they are.  You may have been an academic rock star, but nevertheless, you can wind up with kids who struggle with school.  Making your children feel badly about that is pointless.  Worse yet, it diminishes their self-esteem.

As a parent, your job isn’t to rail against who your children are. It is to unearth their natural gifts and give them ways to develop their talents.  Trying to turn your kids into what they are not is a waste of time.

The times that I have been most unhappy in life have been when I’ve fought against reality. Accepting people for who they are and situations for what they are is the first step in dealing with them effectively.  Acceptance truly is the first step to getting on the path to enjoying your life.

This week, consider the situations in your life that you find to be overwhelming or unresolvable. Have you accepted the situation for what it is?  If you accept it, that frees you to make real decisions about your life.  Take that first step.  Stop fighting life.  And then start enjoying it.

(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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