Somedays I feel like the little red hen.
Do you remember the story? A little red hen finds some seeds. When she asks her friends, "Who will help me plant these seeds?", "Not I" is the reply from the goose, duck, pig and cat. She continually asks them for help each step of the process of turning the seeds into grain and then into bread. "Not I" is still the response. Only when she is all done with her labors of planting the seeds, harvesting the grain, and finally baking the bread can she rest. She asks her friends, "Who will help me eat the bread?" When she gets a resounding, "I will", she declines their help telling them that since they didn't help during the preparation they will not be able to have the results from the labor.
The moral of the story is to reinforce a strong work ethic and remind that if one hasn't contributed to the product, then one shouldn't benefit from it. It also reiterates that if one doesn't receive any help, to soldier on and to be as independent as possible.
Strong work ethic and independence- excellent personality traits, Right?
Yes, we would say. Definitely the back bone of our society. Yet I wonder if it is the best course of response in situations? The thing is, it is exhausting being the little red hen. Not only does she physically do all the work but she is emotionally looking, tallying and keeping track of who is helping her along the way.
Of course there is some righteous indignation on the hen's part and rightly so. The story speaks to our sense of fairness and deserved-ness. If you do not put in the time you cannot receive a reward. Certainly that is true in disciplining oneself - whether one is an athlete or musician.
And, there is a time constraint in her endeavor. Seeds have to be planted and harvested at certain times of the year. If one is to have bread in the fall, the seeds have to grow in the spring. If she sat around waiting for the help, she would never get the project off the ground.
Much as I identify with the little red hen I don't really like her attitude. She seems standoffish and judgmental. Almost as if she is already going into the endeavor with the expectation that no one will help her and she goes through the motion of asking for help just to prove her point. Not very attractive.
At times like these I am reminded of Psalm 22:11- "Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help". The psalmist starts out with telling God exactly how he feels- alone, forsaken, full of self-pity, feeling totally washed out and used up, exhausted with no one to help him. As he cries out to God and has an honest discussion with Him, the psalmist finally comes to the conclusion that God is the one who listens and helps. Psalm 22: 24- "For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and He has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to Him. " God knows what the psalmist is experiencing and He cares. He hears. He sees and He provides.
When I feel like the little red hen, I need to lift my eyes beyond myself and the situation and be thankful; for the seeds, for the potential of help, for the growth of the seeds and for the bread and nourishment that will be provided.
What about you? Ever identify with the little red hen? Or do you more identify with the psalmist? How do you handle it when you feel that there is no one to help? What is your attitude? Do you effortlessly handle the situation with grace? Do you rely on God's strength to get through regardless of help from others? Do you wish you could?
I know that I am trying. I think more than a strong work ethic and independence, I am trying to cultivate a continual grateful attitude and a complete dependency on God.