But that didn't justify running him over with the lawnmower.
After three panicked leaps to avoid capture, I managed to scoop up the warty fellow and flip him gently out of harm's way. And even after wiping off my hand (toads always you-know-what when you pick them up), I still felt pretty good about saving his life.
Then I got to thinking.
Mr. Toad probably had no idea that what I had done was for his greater good. I'm sure that all he gathered from the situation was that he'd been snatched up by some incredibly loud giant and flung through the air for no reason. And then laughing to myself, I imagined him going home that night and complaining about his bad luck. Or blaming the lawnmower for his problem. And perhaps later, after the scare wore off, even taking credit for his survival.
I chuckled right up to the point I realized an unsettling parallel. All of a sudden it wasn't funny anymore.
Isn't that how we humans react when we're faced with adversity? Don't we attribute problems to bad luck, or random chance? Don't we always first complain about it, and then blame it on the "lawnmower?" Then after surviving it, we take credit for mastering the experience ourselves, remaining just as blind as that toad to the fact that adversity is trying to tell us something about ourselves.
Nothing happens by chance.
Just like the toad and the lawnmower operator, there is something much larger than us calling the shots. Just because we fail to recognize it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The evidence is everywhere.
Just try to explain your body. How does it grow? How does it heal itself? What makes a heart beat?
A blade of grass knows to be green. A tree knows to grow pine cones. A dog knows how to bark. Everything is obviously part of a larger system and each plays a role in creating the total mosaic that we sense. There is undoubtedly a master plan at work here.
So why not with us as well? Life has to be much more than a race to collect experiences and fulfill desires!
Perhaps adversity is merely the "planner's" system of nudging us to take another look at our own wrong thinking. Couldn't life be a testing ground, a classroom, where applying what we believe gives "real-world" results in an effort to hone our own character? With that philosophy, adversity then becomes nothing more than feedback - feedback that allows us to change for our own greater good.
Toads are slow learners. Several minutes later, the same toad was doing you-know-what in my hand, and once again, flying through the air toward a tuft of soft grass. Failing to change his thoughts about lawnmowers, he found himself directly in the path of one all over again. And like before, only my benevolence had saved his life.
I began recognizing several lawnmowers in my own life. And realized, more vividly than ever before, how much effort I'd spent trying to change them, missing the lesson that I was the one who needed to change!
And then a humbling thought - how many times had something greater than me intervened without my recognition, saving me from getting chopped up? Who's hand was I you-know-what-ing on?
My thoughts were interrupted by a movement in the grass.
It was the toad, hopping back toward the lawnmower.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz