For those city folk out there, you may have to use your imagination on this one . . . for me, having grown up on a farm, this is one of my favorite analogies and lessons.
Have you ever had a moment in life where you gain a new awareness of how other people perceive you and it is not how you thought you were showing up? What did you do with this realization? Did you go victim and blame it on others or did you take ownership and decide to shift and start treating people differently?
Let’s say you choose option B – start treating the people in your life differently – and from a sincere place within you . . . how did your friends, family, coworkers, boss, etc react? Did they look at you like you were crazy? Did they go into resistance and resentment – wondering why you all of sudden were listening to them when they had been giving you this same feedback for years? Did they hold back waiting to see if it was a temporary change? Maybe, over time, they accepted that this wasn’t a change but a transformation (see earlier blog post) and your relationship improved?
What causes these different reactions and responses?
Let’s look at our hearts as a farmer’s field and the words we speak & actions we take are like the seeds the farmer plants in this field. For the sake of this analogy, let’s say our less than effective behavior (how’s that for being politically correct?!) is cotton seed and our new, transformed, way more effective behavior is corn seed. And if you are a farmer, please don’t correct me if corn and cotton don’t grow in the same season or environment – lol! 🙂
Years ago, our farmer started planting cotton seeds in his field – why cotton? Because this is all he ever knew. His father planted & raised cotton, his grandfather planted & raised cotton, his great-grandfather planted & raised cotton, etc etc. So, our farmer plants cotton. Well, when cotton seeds are planted, guess what grows? You guessed it – cotton plants and then cotton is harvested and the cycle starts all over again. Here’s the kicker – the farmer planted one field of cotton and harvested 30, 60 and 100-fold what was actually planted. Hmmm . . . . do you see this showing up in some of your relationships?
Our farmer saw it showing up also and started getting tired of always producing cotton. One of our farmer’s friends suggests to him that maybe if he tilled the soil, freshened the soil and then chose to plant corn seeds, maybe he would produce a different harvest. So our farmer, excited about this amazing opportunity to produce new results, tills the soil, aerates it and does all the things to prepare it for a new crop to be planted. He plants his corn seeds that were provided by this amazing & inspirational friend and waits for his harvest with bated breath! When harvest time comes, the farmer goes out to check out his new crop and he is amazed and disappointed all at the same time. He sees that some of the new crop of corn grew and is ready for harvest . . . and he is sooooo excited! He also sees though that there is cotton growing up among all the corn! What’s this?! He seeks his friend and asks what kind of corn seeds this man sold him? Why is cotton mixed in with his corn?!
The friend explains to our farmer that because the field has had cotton planted in it for so many years, residual cotton seeds are still in the soil and our farmer can expect to see this every harvest. The good news? Over time, the cotton will diminish as long as our farmer consistently tills the soil between crops, prepares the soil and plants corn seeds.
What is our life lesson in this?
Whatever our farmer wants to reap, he must first sow it – and he must give the soil time to recover from any seeds that have previously been planted.
Same in our relationships and our heart – whatever we want to receive from others, we must first give . . . and if we’ve given things in the past that weren’t that great, we must give other people’s hearts the opportunity to heal from the wounds that may have previously been inflicted.