When I was a child, my Saturday chore was to rake our gravel driveway – to rid it of stray leaves or any other bit of trash that had found its way there.
Raking the driveway was not a happily anticipated chore, so my efforts were sometimes half-hearted. Upon inspection, my Mama would often say, “Fayrene, you need to go back and “lick your calf over.” I never quite understood those words, but I knew, without a doubt, that I hadn’t done a good job, so I had to do it again.
The phrase, “lick the calf over,” is a rural, southern expression referring to the way a cow cares for her newborn calf. She spends much of the first few hours, after birth, licking her new baby. Among other reasons, she licks to form a bond and groom her calf removing the fetal membranes.
“Lick your calf over” means to re-do a job that was not done well.
Doing it over again, regardless of what the task is, is never pleasant. “Doing it over again,” always has a negative connotation. It means—you did something wrong or you didn’t do something right. It means carelessness or failure or simply a lack of “want to,” and it means multiplying precious time already spent.
My mother taught me to sew when I was a little girl. She taught me to sew the quick and easy way. She taught me certain shortcuts. However, in eighth grade, I found that I had been doing it wrong all those years. I couldn’t just pin seams. I had to baste them, but basting took too long. When my teacher caught me doing it the wrong way, the seams had to be ripped out and I had to start over. I hated that. Why couldn’t I do it my way—the fast way.
Four years ago I had my right knee replaced. Seven weeks ago I had my right knee replaced again. It was a “do over.”
My original surgeon didn’t want to touch it. He offered a brace or physical therapy, but I didn’t want to settle for a temporary fix, so I opted for a complete replacement. That meant finding a surgeon who would rip out the whole thing and start over. It was an aggressive surgery for someone my age. I think I’m glad he did it, or at least I will be someday.
Sometimes, in our journey through this life, something goes awry, and we make a royal mess of things. On occasion our mistakes can be easily fixed. Others are ruinous and hurtful throwing all of life off course.
Being human, often, our first inclination is to find a quick fix—an easy out. Just put a brace on it or shore it up with bailing wire, and get on with life. But braces and bailing wire are only temporary remedies dealing with the surface. They never really get to the source of the problem.
In 1969, Frank Sinatra introduced the song, “I DID IT MY WAY.” The song is about a man who lives his life, including failures, and losses, without any regrets. It seems to imply that he lived his life to suit himself without the consideration of others. The whole song smacks of arrogance. By the way, Sinatra grew to detest that song.
Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right unto man, but in the end it leads to death.”
I have a choice. I can arrogantly assume that I am always right insisting on doing it my way. Or understanding that I need council, I can cry with the Psalmist David (Psalm 25:4), “Show me your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths…”
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us why we need to know God’s ways. He says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.”
can’t fix my messes by doing it my way. That’s how I get into trouble in the first place.
So, how do I do it?
First, I must admit that it is my mess. I am at least, in part, responsible. I cannot play the blame game and expect to come to a satisfactory and healing solution. I must be willing to delve into the deep recesses of my own heart to the very moment when I veered off course. Only then can I begin to do it again—the right way this time.
It may be necessary to rip out a few seams. It may be necessary to perform surgery on the problem—starting from the beginning ripping out the old and replacing it with the new. A painful process!
Jeremiah 15:19, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: If you repent, I will restore you…”
Restoration calls for repentance—an admission of guilt and a plea for forgiveness. Restoration demands a “do over.” Repentance may mean making things right with a spouse, apologizing to a child or fellow employee. None of this is easy, especially when pride is at stake. It’s hard to say, “I was wrong!”
This is a very simple, but difficult formula. However, it is a formula that works.
If you need something restored in your life, ask God to show you His way.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!