I was digging through some of my old compact discs of music the other day and I ran across a CD that I had put some of my favorite songs on. I could not remember what songs were on it, so I decided to slide it into my car radio and have a listen. There was an eclectic variety of songs from Metallica to Maroon 5 to MercyMe to Louie Armstrong to Alan Jackson and a lot in between. One of the songs caught my ear and I had one of those moments that brought thoughts rushing into my head.
We are living in some very odd times these days, and it seems that negativity rules the day. My Grandma always scolded us for using the word hate, but I think that it fits the bill here. I have grown tired of all the hate in the world, so I have decided to attempt to concentrate on the good stuff. Take a ride with me in the convertible as we cruise down the highway with the top down and the wind blowing through our hair. The song went like this: “Well, me and my lady had our first big fight; So I drove around ‘til I saw the neon lights; Of a corner bar and it just seemed right; so I pulled up, not a soul around but the old bar keep; Down at the end lookin’ half asleep. But he walked up and said, ‘What’ll it be?’ I said, ‘The good stuff.’ He didn’t reach around for the whiskey; He didn’t pour me a beer; His blue eyes kinda went misty; He said, ‘You can’t find that here.’
“Was the sight of her holdin’ my baby girl; The way she adored that string of pearls I gave her the day that our youngest boy Earl married his high school love. And it’s a new T-shirt sayin’ I’m a grandpa; Bein’ right there as our time got small; And holdin’ her hand when the good Lord called her up. Yeah man, that’s the good stuff.” (Kenny Chesney – 2002)
The good stuff. What is that these days? It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds us and sometimes includes us that we forget about the good stuff.
But what is the good stuff?
I recently completed a small survey on my Facebook page asking people what is “good” in their lives in five words or less. I received several responses to my question and they were all good. The number one response was family, but if you look closely in these lyrics some of the answers are built right into the song. Family and some type of faith were at the top of my research.
I spend a lot of my time talking about family because they matter to me. They are my good stuff. When all else fails, I know that my family will not. They will stand, they will fight, and they will support me through it all. What is your good stuff?
I find it interesting these days listening to the conversations. I mainly do this to find out what is important to people. We talk about freedom, faith, family, our health, or lack thereof, food, friends, and we talk about the good ole days. I love all of these positive things.
We also talk about all the negative things that happen in our communities. We beat down those who have had a run of bad luck, or who have made bad choices in their lives. Have you heard this? Have you partaken in this? I know that I unfortunately have, and my question to you is what has it done for you? Does it make you feel better to step on someone when they are down? This type of behavior does not fit my definition of the good stuff. My Grandma used to always tell us if we did not have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Maybe my Grandma needs to come back down here and thump all of us on the head.
Have you ever messed up in life, made the wrong decision, or went along with the wrong decision because you were unwilling to take a stand? It is a very helpless feeling, and one that I try to avoid if I can.
I challenge you to find the good stuff. Whether it be the nougat in the middle of a Three Musketeer ba or the last bite of an ice cream cone, or if it is the day you see your child born, graduated or married — find the good in things and not the bad.
I would like to share some more of my good stuff with you. I love the smell of bread baking, fair food, and homemade ice cream and hot fudge cake? I love antique cars and tractors, the sound of a baby laughing and talking, or even better yet the sound of music and how it touches us. I can not forget about Santa and those wonderful holiday family gatherings. And the people in our lives that make every breath we take worth it — every heartache and disappointment that even though it shakes us, those people help pull us back up and say, “Rub some dirt on it. Hang in there.” Man, that is some of the good stuff.
I am reminded of a story I want to share. I have used it in a church setting before as I completely believe that Jesus picked broken people for a reason. Even in our brokenness we have value. I will paraphrase and give you the shortened version of this story.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers on your side of the path but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
I love this story because even with our imperfections we can be the good stuff. Just because we are broken doesn’t mean we can’t be of value. Be the good stuff today and every day. Stop the negative or my Grandma is going to come down and thump you.
Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.