The following Ethiopian folk tale reminds us that many times, our determination and focus can be the bellwether of our success. Over the past few months, I have found myself relating this story in several different settings and submit it here for your perusal.
May we determine to do all that we can to make our marriages, our parent/children relationships, and our relationship with Jesus the very best that they can be…
In a village in the mountains of Ethiopia, a young man and woman fell in love and were married. For a while they were perfectly happy, but then trouble started — they began to find fault with each other over the little things. He blamed her for spending too much at market… he was always late. Not a day passed without a squabble of some sort over money or friends or household chores. Sometimes these fights led to angry shouting which ended with each going to bed not speaking, making things even worse.
After a few months, when she thought she could stand it no more she visited a wise judge to ask for a divorce.
“Why?” asked the old man. “You’ve been married barely a year. Don’t you love your husband?”
“Yes, we love each other. But it’s just not working out. We fight a lot and he does things that bother me. He leaves his clothes lying around the house. Drops his toenails on the floor. When I want to do one thing, he wants to do another. We just can’t live together.”
“I see,” said the old man. “Perhaps I can help you. I know of a magic medicine that will make you get along much better. If I give it to you, will you put aside these thoughts of divorce?”
“Yes!” cried the woman. “Give it to me.”
“Wait,” replied the judge. “To make the medicine, I must have a single hair from the tail of a fierce lion that lives down by the river. You must bring it to me.”
“But how?” the woman cried. “The lion will surely kill me!”
“Then I cannot help you,” the old man shook his head.
The wife thought long and hard. She loved her husband very much and the magic medicine might save their marriage. She resolved to get it, no matter what it took!
The next morning she walked down to the river and hid behind some rocks. When the lion came by and she saw his claws as he got a drink, she froze with fear. When he bared his fangs she nearly passed out. When he roared… she turned and ran home.
But the next morning she was back – with a sack of fresh meat that she sat on the ground two hundred yards from the lion. She hid behind the rocks while he ate.
The next day she came back, setting the meat down one hundred yards from the lion. And the next morning, only fifty yards. She stood nearby while he gulped it down.
Each day she drew closer to the fierce lion and finally stood near enough to thrown him the food, and eventually, she fed him right from her hand!
She trembled as she watched the great teeth ripping and tearing the meat, but she loved her husband more than she feared the lion. Closing her eyes, she reached out and pulled a single hair from the tail!
Then she ran as fast as she could to the wise old judge.
“Look!” she cried. “I’ve brought a hair from the lion!”
The old man looked at it closely. “This is a brave thing you’ve done and it took much patience and resolve.”
“Yes,” said the woman. “Now give me the medicine to make my marriage better!”
The old man shook his head. “I have nothing else to give you.”
“But you promised!” the young wife cried.
“Don’t you see?” asked the old man gently. “I have already given you all the medicine you need. You were determined to do whatever it took, however long it took, to gain a magic remedy for your problems. But there is no magic remedy. There is only your determination. You say you and your husband love each other. if you both give your marriage the same patience and resolve and courage you showed in getting this hair, you will be happy together for a long time. Think about it!”
And so the women went home with new resolutions, determined to work even harder to make it a success.