A Mailbox, a Snake, and a Lesson

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A simple trip to the mailbox became inspiration for a motivating message to my readers.

Yesterday afternoon I took the brief walk down the driveway to the mailbox as I always do. As I walked I absently glanced about at the houses in the neighborhood, the kids zooming past on their bicycles, the four lazy cats dozing in the shade of my neighbor’s oak tree. I barely noticed the crunchy, sun-scorched leaves and dark chips of mulch that I could see in my peripheral vision sprinkled about the white concrete driveway.

Once I made it to the bottom of the small hill, I reached into the mailbox grabbed the papers, shook them out (in case spiders were crawling inside!), and slowly started back up the driveway.

As I waltzed up the hill, flipping through the envelopes and magazines I had just collected, I lifted my head and glanced up the path. One of the small gatherings of stray mulch I barely noticed on my way down the driveway was now much more noticeable.

Less than three feet in front of me, the small pile of mulch actually proved to be a coiled black snake!

I am deathly afraid of snakes, spiders, and all creepy crawling things. As soon as my eyes focused on the snake and my mind computed that it was no little pile of mulch, my knees went weak. I screamed, panicked, and broke out into a sweat. How was I supposed to get back up the driveway now that an anaconda was blocking it and ready to swallow me whole?! (It was actually just a simple little black snake barely over a foot long and not paying a bit of attention to me, but in my mind it was something out of a horror movie.)

My husband and son hadn’t gotten home yet so I couldn’t yell for them and I didn’t want the neighbors to see me acting like a crazy person. I could either stand in the driveway until someone came home or have a showdown with Mr. Anaconda.

After a couple of minutes of sheer terror and panic, I decided I would go around the house to get back to the door. Instead of walking the short 10 yards or so to the kitchen door by the driveway, I decided to cross the entire front yard, walk around the side of the house, cross the entire back yard, and come around to the kitchen door.

As I came around the corner and walked up the three brick steps to the door, I looked back down the massive snake pit (my empty driveway) and saw Mr. Anaconda slithering away down a storm drain.

It’s funny how when I wasn’t aware of the snake I made it to the mailbox with no problems. If I hadn’t looked directly at it on the way back up the driveway I would have been past it in a fraction of a second and back into the safety of my home, saving myself from a near heart attack.

Reaching our goals in life is a lot like my experience with the “anaconda.” As long as I focused on my destination and not the snake, I could make it. As soon as I turned my focus to the snake, I panicked, became afraid, and made it harder on myself to reach my back door.

No matter what problems, obstacles, or setbacks happen throughout our journey, we can’t focus on them. We can’t dwell on them. We need to put on blinders and point our gaze only in the direction we want to go and not let what is going in around us distract us, get us off course, or stand in the way of our destination.

When my husband sliced his fingertip in half with the hedge trimmer last month, he said he felt a prick when his finger made contact with the blade, but didn’t feel the pain until a few seconds later when he actually saw the wound and all the blood. You’ve probably been in a similar situation where you didn’t realize you had been hurt until you saw the bruise or the blood and then felt the pain based on what you saw. It’s only when we focus on the setback do we succumb to it and allow it to distract us.

The story of Peter walking on water to Jesus is another example of what can happen when you focus on what is going on around you instead of your destination. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he did fine walking across the sea. But as soon as he started looking at the raging storm around him, he began to sink.

I knew there was something in the driveway as I walked past. My husband knew he had hit his finger. Peter knew there was a storm going on. But as long as none of us looked at the snake, the wound, or the rain, we made it. Once we focused on them we were afraid, we hurt, we sank.

You may know there’s something trying to block your path, but keep moving forward and focus on your goal.

Don’t let a storm, a snake, a gossiping coworker, a negative parent, a failed job interview, or a closed door distract you from reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself. Nothing can stop you but you.

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10 thoughts on “A Mailbox, a Snake, and a Lesson

  1. Well, I am not that bad – I can handle snakes, but not when they are stuck in my wall. Hopefully that won’t happen again. I am enjoying your writing!

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