Recently my youngest child, Koleson, was given some simple yard work responsibilities. (You're welcome, kiddo!)
Koleson is a stellar young man with a deep desire to shine on his own and not live forever in his three siblings’ shadows. So when I invited him to become pals with the brand-new mower and share some responsibilities with the next oldest in the childhood chain of command, he was more than willing.
In fact, he was — gasp! — even a bit excited.
I confess that his first few sessions were wildly entertaining to watch from a distance. Obviously, I kept an eye out for his safety, but I had to dad-giggle at a scene that could have been ripped from a summer sitcom. Sometimes Koleson steered the self-propelled mower, and sometimes it steered him.
The traditional crisp back-and-forth lines and thin layers of freshly-cut grass were replaced with patterns and piles that didn’t resemble a front yard as much as an abstract modern art project.
"How does it look?" Koleson asked the first day, eyes wide, sweaty hair matted to his forehead.
"Terrific," I said with a proud smile. "Like one day you might even own a successful landscaping company."
Then I gave a few tips and let him return to his grass canvas. “Just keep mowing,” I said.
Truthfully, a month or two into Koleson’s lawn care career, the lines are still wavy and he sometimes leaves an occasional yard mohawk or mullet. But more and more he loves looking over his shoulder every few minutes to admire his progress.
Every single time I watch him dance with that mower, I marvel at his desire to do his best, to do it with a smile, and to be satisfied with the results. Now the yard might not win any neighborhood awards this summer or land our home on a reality show, but at least he's still mowing. Isn't that what matters most?
Lately, I can't watch him care for our small spot of God's green earth without wondering if we’re not all learning a lesson much more important than landscaping.
What if heaven watches us with the very same eyes?
Do some of us lose the love of living in the pounding pursuit of perfection?
Are we so hyper-focused on perfectly straight lines that life becomes exhausting and joyless?
It’s not hard to imagine our loving and forgiving Father in Heaven watching from the window and cheering us on, no matter how uneven our efforts.
Remember — doing our best means doing today’s best, not tomorrow’s.
Of course, it’s wise to look over your shoulder and admire your work. But don’t forget that we must trust that our best will look even better in the future.
Friends — whatever you’re tackling today, go give it your all. And don’t worry if the lines aren’t ideal. Don’t stress if the patterns aren’t perfect.
I promise someone who loves you is watching.
Someone who loves you is cheering you on.
Just keep mowing.