Daily Archives: February 18, 2011

What Bessie The Mule Can Teach Us About Relationships

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company that was responsible for the accident to court.

Sitting on the witness stand, the company’s lawyer began interrogating Farmer Joe. “Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine?'” asked the lawyer.

“Well I’ll tell you what happened,” Farmer Joe responded. “I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…”

“I didn’t ask for any details,” the lawyer interrupted. “Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, you were fine?”

“Well I had just loaded Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…”

The lawyer interrupted him again. “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that at the scene of the accident, this man told the highway trooper that he was fine. If the man was fine after the accident but now he’s suing my client, then the man is obviously a fraud. Please ask him to answer the question.”

At this point, the judge’s curiosity was piqued. With a grin on his face, he looked at the lawyer and said, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie.”

Joe thanked the judge and proceeded.

“Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other.

“I was hurtin’ real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape. Shortly after the accident, the trooper came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he walked over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes.

“Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, ‘Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?'”


Over time, I’ve come to loathe the word “fine,” partly, because it flows out of my mouth so easily. What does “fine” mean anyway? Good? Healthy?

In reality, when someone is asked “how are you?” for most people “fine” is a loose translation for “shut up and don’t ask.” We don’t want to bore people with how we’re really feeling, nor do we want to run the risk of being vulnerable or engaging in conversation.

But what would happen if for one week, everyone deleted the word “fine” from their vocabulary and actually answered how they’re really feeling?

“I’m discouraged.”

“I’m really hurting right now.”

“My daughter has me worried.”

“My boss just gave me a raise!”

Even “shut up and don’t ask.”

Obviously, the stranger on the street may not be interested in listening as you air your dirty laundry, but real conversations would take place. And we’d begin moving beyond formalities.

Lately I’ve been trying to avoid the word “fine” when people ask me how I am. At first they’re taken back by my honesty, but then they begin sharing how they’re really feeling. Then—believe it or not—an actual conversation begins taking place.

Authentic community, which leads to life transformation, begins when people move beyond formalities and begin sharing who they really are.

Try it and see!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:5–7


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