Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 22, 2005


How easy to overlook the help we receive from others!


          Last Sunday I wrote about my vegetable garden. When my wife read the column, she said, “Very good, but you left something out – you forget to mention that your grandson broke up the ground for you.”

          She was right. I had overlooked Joseph’s good help. The oldest child of our son Tim and his wife Karen, Joseph is 17. This fall he will be a senior in high school.

          Since Dean pointed out my omission to me, I have been reflecting on the matter. How easy it is for us to overlook the contributions that others make to our lives! Often we take such help for granted, quickly forgetting the helping hand that friends have provided.

          I thought about how Joseph might have felt had he read the article about my garden. No doubt he would have wondered why there was no mention of his hard work. It consoled me only a little to think that probably he had not read the column.

          Yet the truth is that in my self-centeredness I had forgotten his contribution to the project. I picked a place in the sun, on our back lawn, where there was little shade. However, the grass had to be removed before we could till the soil.

          Removing the grass required the use of a hoe and a shovel. It was hard work, too much for my aged knees. So I asked big, strong Joseph to clear the grass out of the way. The job took him over an hour. I remember thinking that I was doing him a favor. He needed the exercise so he could strengthen his body for playing football and basketball next season. The hard work would do him good, and it would have been tough on my new, artificial knees.

          Joseph did such a good job removing the grass that I decided to let him use the tiller to break up the soil. By the time he finished, he had worked up a good sweat. I had helped him. He would be a stronger athlete this fall.

          While all that is true, how in the world did I forget to mention his help when I wrote about my garden? The answer lies in the word “my.” I was focused on myself. It was all about me – what I thought, how I felt, what I had done. My sin was exposed by my own self-centeredness. Without intending to do it, I had overlooked Joseph’s valuable assistance.

          Writing about my sin of omission is therapy of a sort for me. I feel better having admitted my error. I am doing so in the hope that this will not soon happen to me again. That all of us are guilty of this sin does not lessen my pain very much. I simply need to be more conscious of the contributions that others make to my life, and to express my gratitude openly and often.

          I plan to make sure Joseph reads this article even though he probably does not feel that I owe him an apology. I know I do and that is reason enough. Perhaps reading my confession will make Joseph more aware of the help he receives from others, and more willing to acknowledge their aid.

          Squash and strawberries will be ready to gather soon. If the deer, squirrels, and birds do not rob me of this harvest, I plan for Joseph to enjoy the first fruits of the garden he helped me create. A few strawberries on some ice cream should bring a smile to his face.

          My little garden looks good; everything we planted is growing. We should have some nice peppers to offer Mama very soon. However, from this day forward, my garden has a new name. Henceforth I plan to call it what it truly is – our garden, Joseph’s and mine.

          Every time I water our garden, I will be asking myself a good question: Whose contribution to my life am I overlooking? It is one thing to be blessed by the help of friends. It is another to be aware of their help and to be thankful for it. + + + +