Howard Buchanan went to be with the Lord a few years ago. Tonya and I knew him as our neighbor for approximately ten years. Howard was a Baptist preacher and a very good man. He was also laid back and slow moving.
The house Tonya and I lived in during those days had a long, gravel driveway that ran right past Howard’s house. That driveway had a lot of ditch line, and I was constantly mowing that ditch line’s grass with my weedeater to keep everything looking nice. It was a major battle every spring and summer. Tonya thought I was crazy for worrying so much about that grass, but I was in full “king of my castle” mode back then and wanted the place to look nice.
One day I was talking with Howard and somehow the subject of the ditch-line grass came up. Actually, I’m sure it came up because I brought it up, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, after listening to me rant and rave about the amount of work it took to keep that grass mowed, Howard looked at me with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye and uttered the following assessment: “It’s just grass.” And there it was, a perfect summation that placed the problem in its appropriate universal perspective. Three words. Just three little words. But those words served as a friendly rebuke to me, one that I’ve never forgotten.
In the days since then there have been other times when I’ve faded into obsession over something that wasn’t truly worthy of such time and energy. And more than once Tonya has looked and me and said with a grin, “It’s just grass, Russell.” That’s her way of saying, “I think you’re acting a little nuts over this.” Each time she says it, my mind goes back to Howard and that ditch line.
There’s a cutesy saying that says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and everything is small stuff.” Well, that saying is a lie, isn’t it? Life has taught us that some stuff is big, quite big actually. But then again we also have to admit that much of life really is little more than ditch-line grass. And the thing about ditch-line grass is that it is only as big a deal as you choose to make it.
Perhaps, right now, you find yourself obsessing over something. Okay, what you need to do is ask yourself one simple question: “Is this thing truly worthy of my obsession or is it just grass?” Like I said, some stuff in life is major, genuinely major, and if you are dealing with something from that category I certainly don’t mean to trivialize or minimize your problem. But on the other hand, the larger part of life is grass, just grass. And if that’s the category of stuff that you are driving yourself crazy about lately, then consider yourself rebuked. The rebuke comes courtesy of a wise old preacher named Howard Buchanan, and it comes complete with a wry smile and a twinkle in the eye. So accept it in the attitude in which it is offered, and apply as much of it as is needed for your situation.