I stood at the little red dirt mound watching ants. They were busy. I was not.
The afternoon had been a little too slow for me. Several of my friends had gotten an invitation to the community pool. Another friend was at camp for the week. Even my very last resort, the pigtailed aggravation that lived in the apartment below ours, was busy. “She’s napping,” her mom had informed me.
I walked away thinking, “She’s 6 years old. Only two years younger than me and she still takes naps? That’s the awfullest thing a mom could do to her child. And this is now the awfullest afternoon ever.”
I sat on the swing of the sad little playground behind our apartment complex. I scuffed the toes of my red Keds, making lines in the dirt as I moved slowly back and forth. If a child could have died from boredom, I felt quite terminal at that moment.
Then I spotted the anthill.
I walked over and stood there. Just about the time I was thinking about how lucky all those ants were to have so many friends, I heard a scratchy little voice call out to me.
“I bet you won’t stick your foot through that anthill.” Pigtailed girl had woken up from her afternoon slumber. And for heaven’s sake I would not, could not be shamed by a girl who still took naps.
I knew with my mind I shouldn’t kick the anthill. I knew with my heart I shouldn’t kick the anthill. And I knew deep down in my soul I shouldn’t kick the anthill. I knew. Every part of me knew I should walk away from the anthill.
But some silly part of my mouth betrayed me.
“Yes, I will!” I declared as I kicked my foot into the middle of ant Hades.
It didn’t take long to feel as if someone had lit 1,000 needles on fire and was stabbing me mercilessly.
Since that day I haven’t kicked an anthill. At least not in the literal sense.
But I have gotten myself into situations where I invited trouble into my life that just didn’t need to be there. Especially in the area of saying yes to something I absolutely should say no to.
I will know with my mind I should say no. I will know with my heart I should say no. I will know deep down in my soul I should say no.
But then my mouth will betray me, “Yes, of course I will do that.”
The sting of the three d’s comes…
Dread – As I write yet another thing on my schedule, I feel the weight of overload.
Disappointment – In order to make this happen, I will disappoint someone. Time is like money in the bank – there is only so much of it. And once it runs out, any further expenditures will cause an overdrawn account.
Drama – Dread and disappointment will ratchet my emotions to a tipping point. A tipping point that’s not healthy for me or those with whom I do life.
Here’s what I’m trying to preach to myself: Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it.
I kicked the anthill that day for three reasons… I thought it proved I was something. I thought it would impress nap girl. And because I didn’t think through the cost beforehand.
Maybe, before saying yes to one more thing on my schedule today, I should ask myself…
Am I trying to prove something?
Am I trying to impress someone?
Have I thought through the cost of saying yes?
It’s not bad to say yes to opportunities. But we really should consider whether this is an assignment or an anthill.
Take the assignment if it’s yours. But, don’t kick the anthills.
“He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray,” (Proverbs 10:17).