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Naughty Makes Nice

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Facing our ugly, challenging, naughty experiences can anchor our need for one of THE most important kinds of seed: humility. When that one is allowed to sprout and grow it fuels our desire to be nice; to others and… to ourselves. Being able to share with others what we’ve learned from our naughty-makes-nice-experiences does something else.


It was quite a day last Saturday!


We celebrated my father-in-law, Lyle’s 87th birthday and he was in rare form.

Part of what made this occasion so special was hearing the kind words of appreciation and fond memories everyone shared with him…. and his response.


Honestly, every “Remember that time when we….” was augmented by him; often with story details others had forgotten…. or a joke!


The memories ran the gamut from silly to serious and because I’m relatively new to the family (Sam and I got married 5 ½ years ago) many of them were new to me. But there was something about hearing those-shared-experiences-shared-aloud that created this beautiful safe and almost sacred environment. And… it fostered a powerful sense of connectedness that was palpable.


If you’ve ever rehashed the “big win” with your sports team, or relived the standing ovation with your troupe of fellow actors… you know the feeling. It’s part of our wiring as humans… this desire to be known through the enjoyment of collective memories with others.


It confirms: we belong.


At a time of year replete with reminiscing you may find yourself in one of two camps: love it or… not so much. When those shared holiday experiences are joy-filled… a “memory redo” is like a welcome light dusting of Christmas Eve snow. But… when disappointment, despair and disillusionment top the list of “how I remember the holidays” (or how I’m facing the current one) it can be a bitter pill to swallow when others insist on reliving and reminding us of what we’d rather forget.


So, what is a body to do as the clock ticks steadily toward the “Fa-la-la-la-la-i-days?”

My suggestion?


Consider applying the benefits of no-till farming to your thinking.


True confession… until a few weeks ago, when the term was introduced to me during a conversation with my niece’s husband, … I had never heard of it.

No-till farming:

  • prepares the land for farming without mechanically disturbing the soil (previous year’s crops are chopped off and left on the topsoil-helping to prevent erosion)

  • drastically increases water infiltration and therefore retention (i.e. less evaporation) by the soil means less runoff of contaminated (by fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) water, as well as a reduction in the amount of watering necessary for a given crop

  • lessens labor (a single pass to plant seeds vs. as many as five passes with a plow if the land is tilled)

And so, what?


Well….as we harvest the crops of our year and anticipate several major days designated for all things happy, it’s likely we have a mixture of “naughty and nice” when it comes to how we think about those.

But the truth is… both (or all) of our experiences and memories have the potential to serve us well.

It all boils down to our willingness to answer this question:


“What did I learn?”


That may sound simplistic…. but think about it.

If we are able to extract a learning …. even the worst prior holiday experience, relational blow-up or work-related disaster has the potential to be life-giving.


“Experience isn’t the best teacher… evaluated experience is.” ~ John C Maxwell

Making the shift from “Why me?” to “What next?” is a thinking strategy that allows us to appreciate the value of the tangled mess just below the surface in our life.

  • Honestly acknowledging the benefit this year’s “crop” has had in our lives

  • Realizing that the very things we would rather NOT expose are also what is strengthening and in a weird way… watering our growth; allowing us to retain what IS good

  • Understanding that one hour spent reflecting can yield better results than five times that spent blaming and complaining.

Ironically, facing our ugly, challenging, naughty experiences can anchor our need for one of THE most important kinds of seed: humility. When that one is allowed to sprout and grow it fuels our desire to be nice; to others and… to ourselves. Being able to share with others what we’ve learned from our naughty-makes-nice-experiences does something else.


It creates that beautiful, safe, sacred environment of real connection…. where we know we belong.

And that’s the best kind of “big win” holiday harvest!


Grow inside. Excel outside. Amy

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