Running in Mud: Life Lessons From the Farm

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I grew up alongside the muddy Mississippi River on a family farm in Fulton, Illinois. Spring time would bring rain showers and rain showers would bring mud puddles and mud. I have not lived on a farm for a long time, but the life experiences and education from the farm still echo in my life.

I was recently emailing with a seminary colleague as we struggled to put words to this experience of living with a pandemic. COVID-19 has changed how we live, work and now “shelter in place.” During the course of that email, I wrote—“It feels like I am running in mud.”

Whether you grew up on a farm or not, you may have tried to “run in the mud.” Here are some life lessons from the farm that I offer as insights on how to get through the mud and muck of coronavirus.

You Can't Run Fast! In Fact, You Really Can't Run

We all live with an image that we carry of productivity or moving quickly through a day. We usually eat fast food and live at a fast pace. Now everything has slowed down. It’s okay! It is a muddy time and we should just name it and let go of that image of running fast or any false gods of productivity that we carry.

You Can't Take Big Steps

The surest way to lose a boot when walking through mud is to take big steps. You have to be willing to take small steps to keep your balance and to keep your feet in the boots. When you stretch out to take bigger steps, the mud grips your boot and your foot begins to come out of the boot. Not pleasant! Be content with small steps at this time. I know for some people just putting on regular clothes rather than staying in pajamas is the first step to having a new day. So be it!

It Helps To Follow Someone Else's Steps

Sometimes you can go through the mud easier because someone walks in front of you and you can step in to footprints they leave behind. What this requires is that we recognize the value of walking together and following examples and models. One of the best questions we can ask at this time is— “How did you do that?” It is humbling to ask such a question, but God does want us to follow others. It was the Apostle Paul who knew about taking steps of faith in the journey of life who encouraged others by saying in 1 Corinthians 11:1: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 

Sometimes You Need A Stick

Sometimes it just helps to have a stick when walking in the mud. It helps with balance and with even finding the best way through a mud puddle. What is available to you that can be a helpful stick or support at this moment in your life? Some of you are asking grandparents to read to your children via the phone or maybe zoom. Good for you! Let us help each other find ways that we can support one another. What are the sticks that are supporting and sustaining you?

You Will Get Through It!

I know that as a person of faith working in a community of faith, I just need to be reminded that this day is not going to keep repeating. We may feel like we are in a real-life version of the Bill Murray movie—“Groundhog Day.” (Well worth a view at this time.) In that movie, even Bill Murray’s character finds a way to learn and grow during the repetition of each day. We can have confidence in a God who moves through history and we should again count on God working through us and in this time as well—even in muddy times!

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Participant

Thanks for the great article! Speaking as a fellow former Illinois resident (and knowing that I sometimes struggle with an unhealthy mid-western 'work till you drop' work ethic), I have felt the very same way in these days. So, I really needed to hear this. Thanks for your continued leadership at CTS!