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How Big Is Your Shovel?
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By Helena Smrcek

Frolicking horses, cute kittens, flocks of chickens—misleading images of farm life. Honestly, no one advertises the other side of nature.

Cleaning Rosie’s stall is part of my mornings. I love her milk. The other presents—not so much. Shovel in hand, I worked around my Queen of Goats the other day, her watchful eye ensuring I didn’t miss a thing, while my thoughts took me back to a long-ago conversation.

I have met Doctor Joel Freeman at Write!Canada. His credentials astounded me. A man with a long list of qualifications, achievements and involvements, yet when we sat down to talk, he was happy, open, and ready to listen.

His interest in my life was so disarming, that I, uncharacteristically so, opened up and shared my struggles. I told him about my family, church involvement, work, and my fear. People around me would often say I had too much going on, but I wrestled to give up any one thing. Was I missing God’s best? Was I in His will?

He listened, then looked me in the eyes, and said. “I have three questions. First. How is your relationship with God?”

Honestly I didn’t expect that. My bad. He had served as an NBA chaplain. “I’d say good,” I answered, knowing that I’d never be as good a Christina as I could be, but I live by His mercy.

“Great,” Freeman nodded. “How is your relationship with your husband?”

Both of us triple-A personalities, our relationship has never been boring. Without going into details, I answered, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

“And how is your relationship with your children?” He asked.

All the parenting stress, rush and heartaches aside, our kids have never gave us grief. We truly blessed with these two, now young adult people, in our lives. My answer was easy. “Great.”

He smiled and said. “It’s the size of your shovel.”

I was little puzzled at first, but he continued to explain.

“God gives each one of us a shovel. Some people get a small shovel, and some a large one. The ones with the small shovel look at you and wonder how you could do all these things, but as long as your three primary relationship are in order, and your health is good, keep on going. You aren’t doing anything wrong.”

This was one of the most freeing conversations of my life. A heavy weight lifted of my chest and guilt slowly dissipated. Here was an accomplished man, giving me permission to be myself.

So, on the days I feel overwhelmed and question my sanity, I remind myself that I chose this life. As gratitude replaces dread, I sprinkle fresh wood shavings onto Rosie’s floor, making her home worthy of the queen she is, and silently thank God for giving me the opportunity and strength to do this. God has granted me this freedom, He gave me a shovel, it’s up to me to use it, and live my life to the fullest. No regrets.