Reaping What We Sow
A farmer walked into the local supply store to buy corn seeds for the upcoming planting season. He wanted to grow the best corn crop he possibly could and he wanted them to come up quickly. The owner of the store directed him to the variety of available options and helped the farmer determine exactly the types of seeds he should buy and how many. Before the farmer left the store the owner made sure he had given him directions and tips on how to properly plant and care for the seeds. The farmer left with bags of seed, fertilizer, and detailed instructions. He was feeling excited about the possibilities for the growing season ahead. He just knew this was going to be the best corn crop he ever planted.
By the time the farmer got home from the supply store it was dinnertime and he was hungry and tired. He carefully unloaded the bags of seed and his other purchases and set them down inside the barn. He had every intention of beginning to plant them the next day. The farmer went inside, had dinner, and went to bed.
The next morning the farmer woke up and the sky was a bit overcast. It looked like it might rain and he decided it wasn’t the best day to plant the seeds he had purchased the day before. After all, if this was going to be the best crop he ever planted he needed to make sure everything was just right. That day came and went and the seeds remained in the barn.
The next day came and the farmer had a huge list of things to tend to on the farm. There was broken equipment that needed to be fixed and some animals that needed tending to. He thought about his seeds many times, but decided they would just have to wait. That day came and went and the seeds remained in the barn.
The days continued to come and go, and the seeds remained in the barn. It seemed that something else more important or pressing always came up, or he was really tired from all his hard work, and it was never the right time to plant those seeds.
Finally one day the farmer woke up thinking about those seeds and realized he had to get them planted or he was going to miss the planting season entirely. He raced outside, grabbed the bags of seed and fertilizer, and started throwing the seeds all over his fields. By the end of the day he had all the seeds planted and he went to bed that night feeling pretty good about himself. He hadn’t followed the guidance provided to him when he first bought the seeds, but he was sure something good would come of his efforts that day to get those seeds in the ground.
The growing season continued on and the farmer periodically tended to his crops – watering them when they got really dry and dumping some fertilizer on them every once in a while. As the season reached it’s peak the farmer began to get frustrated at what he saw when he looked out on his fields. The plants that were coming up seemed small and fragile and they weren’t producing much. All he could see was a few pieces of corn here and there attached to spindly dry stalks. Where were the lush green stalks he was supposed to get from those seeds? Where was all the corn that was supposed to be growing on those stalks?
As the days wore on the farmer’s frustration grew and grew, and he began to get angry. This wasn’t how the growing season was supposed to work out! After all, he had bought the best seeds, the best fertilizer, and had a great vision for what the outcome would look like. One day, at the height of his frustration and anger he grabbed a corn stalk out of the ground, threw it in his truck, and sped down to the supply store where he had purchased the seeds many months before. He was going to look that store owner in the eye and give him a piece of his mind.
When he got to the store he was glad to see the owner just inside the door. He stomped inside, held out the pathetic stalk of corn, and demanded to know why the man had sold him such terrible seeds when he specifically told him he wanted the best that were available. The store owner looked at the corn, and then at the farmer, and asked him if he had followed the instructions and tips he had given when the seeds were first purchased. The farmer told him that indeed he had planted the seeds, used the fertilizer, watered them and this was the result. At first the owner was baffled as to why this farmer’s corn looked the way it did. As the conversation wore on, however, it became clear that the directions had not been followed and that hasty last-ditch efforts had been substituted for the carefully planned and well-tended care required to grow the best crops. The store owner shook his head and told the farmer that he’d be glad to help him select seeds again the next year, and would offer him advice, but that it was up to the farmer to follow through.
The farmer left the store feeling a mix of anger (that stupid store owner), resentment (who does that guy think he is anyway), guilt (I should have done a better job following those directions), fear (what’s going to come from this terrible crop and what if I try again next year and it comes out just as bad), and shame (I’m a bad farmer and should have known better, and now I’m trying to blame my failures on someone else). He went to bed that night tossing and turning.
The next morning the farmer felt slightly revived by his night of fitful sleep, and went out to look at his corn crop. He noticed that the ground was drier than usual so he carefully watered the plants and staked a few that were particularly droopy. He went to bed that night feeling somewhat better that the plants would look decent in the morning.
When he woke up and looked out upon his crops the next morning, however, they looked just as bad as the day before. The plants he had staked were still standing, but now there were others that had fallen over in the night. The farmer became enraged at the corn. He began running up and down the field yelling and kicking the corn stalks – blaming them for refusing to grow right despite his efforts. This went on for a little while until the farmer finally came to his senses and realized that he could be angry and scream at the corn all day long and it wasn’t going to make the corn grow any faster or better. He walked back to the barn feeling a mixture of anger (stupid crops that won’t grow-look at all the money I wasted), resentment (this corn just won’t grow right no matter what I do and I didn’t ask for this difficult corn in the first place; this isn’t what I thought I was getting), guilt (I should keep trying to do what I can for this crop since it’s all I’ve got right now), fear (what’s going to happen to these crops if I can’t get them to grow; what if I keep trying and they still don’t produce anything), and shame (here I am blaming the corn plants when it’s my own fault they aren’t growing).
The rest of the story is for you the reader to determine. How does the story end in your mind? Does the farmer give up? Does he get his act together and do what he can from that point on? Does he move on and find another supply store owner to assist him? However you end the story, think about this question:
What did the farmer sow and what did he reap?
of us has an area in our lives where we are the farmer and someone or something is the corn. It’s easy to sow poorly or half-heartedly and then blame other people or things for the failures we reap. We feel that mixture of anger, resentment, guilt, fear, and shame and we have to decide what to do with it. Do we just let those feelings continue to fester without taking any action? Do we give up? Do we move on to find the thing we are sure will work? Do we shape up and get our act together? It’s easy to blame others for our failures, but much harder to look at ourselves and point the finger.
My questions for you to reflect on this week are in relation to your children with autism and your remediation efforts: What are you sowing? What are you reaping? How does your story end?
Until next week,