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Inspiration for the Motivational: “Applebuck Season”

On viewing this episode, I wonder if Applejack reminds us all of anyone we know. I imagine it does. In my case, it reminds me of several people I know, but I’ll pick on my niece. (Sorry, little sis.) My niece is a terror when it comes to the most basic of all tasks adults try to get little kids to do: eat. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve went to restaurants on family outings and tried to get her something, only for her to turn her nose at it completely and say she doesn’t want it.

Then, of course, being the reasonable adults we are, we always do the wrong thing after she does this and try to get her to try it. Maybe we’ll talk nicely. Maybe we’ll say it’s yummy. Maybe we’ll cut a bite and try to give it to her. Well…that’s a big mistake. Immediately she goes ballistic. Crying, fit throwing, tantrums, and all repeatedly saying “I don’t like it! It’s yucky! I don’t want it!” You’d think we were trying to get her to eat some cyanide some days. She’d rather spend the energy squirming around, kicking about, and trying to literally melt out of her chair than take a bite.

The funny thing is if she does take a bite and she does like it, she doesn’t immediately change her behavior. She’ll continue to protest for a bit. She’ll continue to be standoffish. It’ll only be when no one is really giving her attention that she’ll try another bite. And I know what’s going on. I know because I remember what it was when I was a kid and my parents wanted me to try mashed potatoes. I said they were “yucky”. I said I wouldn’t like them. I said they’d make me “throw up” even. Finally I tried a small bite just to keep from being pestered. And you know what? They were good.

But do you think I ate them all up after that? Heck no. I continued to say they were yucky just like I thought they were and refused to have any more bites. And why? Because I was stubborn as a mule, for one, and I still am in a lot of ways, but most of all was because I wanted to feel “justified”. I had claimed and ranted and raved about how gross mashed potatoes were and how I wouldn’t like them, when my mom had told me again and again I’d like them if I tried them. Well…if I ate them up, I’d be admitting my mom was right and I was wrong. So rather than admit anything, and wanting to justify myself, I stood my ground and said I didn’t like them.

Applejack is the same way in this episode, I think. It’s clear right from the beginning she’s nervous about trying to harvest the whole crop by herself. But she made a claim that she could do it all by herself. So that meant no matter how tired she got, no matter how sore and in pain, and no matter how much she messed things up…she clung to her pride, because she wanted to feel “justified”. Even if it was hard and too much for her, she wanted to say at the end that she was right all along. Because that would be better than “being wrong”.

Ponies and little children aside, I know for a fact that I hate being wrong. Everyone in my family hates being wrong. I think everyone does. Whenever we make a claim or a vow or a promise or ascertain something is true or exact, we want to be in the right. We want to be able to say in a conflict we were correct, or that we were the ones who knew what we were talking about all the time, and, most importantly, that we were justified. It’s not a “good feeling” to be proven wrong. I’m sure most of us wish whenever we said or did something for ourselves that we would always be in the right. And, unfortunately, some of us take that too far.

Time and time again for politicians, global affairs, and even our own home lives, we run into a situation where someone is proven wrong and yet they continue to cling to their original idea. It’s where a lot of logical fallacies come from. We support and endorse something whole-heartedly and, when it fails, rather than admit we did something wrong, back up, and see where we made the error…we want to defend it. Make an excuse for it. Say that “well, it wasn’t really the situation I was talking about” or this that and the other thing. When this happens, it can get really difficult to deal with people really quickly.

In the Bible, when a scholar of the law came up to Jesus asking Him about what commandments he needed to keep to gain eternal life, Jesus gave an answer he didn’t intend to hear. So, as Luke 10:29 says: “But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'” That ended up going rather badly for him, as you may recall. Not only did Jesus answer his question perfectly, but he ended up making him lose even more “face” than before by showing that a non-Israelite could be more righteous and God-fearing than the priestly class. Going back to the Old Testament, in the first book of Kings, Chapter 12, we discover that when Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon to the throne of the united Israel, he was warned by all of the wise men, advisors, and essentially “staff” of his father to ease the enforced labor that Solomon had put on the people. But he didn’t like the sound of that. So instead, he went to the people his age and level of experience who had grown up with him and were more likely friends of his. People who he knew would “give him the answer he wanted to hear” and, more importantly, would say that his way was “the right one”. The consequence of that was Israel was divided into two kingdoms with both growing weaker as a result.

The Bible encourages us to be humble; not in the sense of letting people walk over us or compromising what are God-grounded principles, but to be able to admit when we are wrong. It’s a mark of emotional and mental maturity to be able to humbly say when we’re in error and seek to correct it, as opposed to aggressively going down the same path…rather like Applejack continuously kicking a dead tree hoping to get an apple out of it. And we should all be aware that when trying to justify ourselves before God that he already sees and knows the truth behind all of our motives and actions, and that he has given his command for our benefit. If he calls us out on something we’re doing wrong, then the best thing we can do is change what we’re doing as opposed to trying to cling to our pride or “justify ourselves”. At the bare minimum, it won’t work out. And in the worst case, we may end up seriously regretting it.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, please forgive me for all the times when my pride and vanity has kept me going on the wrong path so I could avoid the humility of being ‘proven wrong’. Help me to acknowledge my weaknesses and admit them so that I can receive healing and grow in the areas where I lack, and help me to develop my own ‘Godly Humility’ so that I can be more receptive to your instruction and better minister to and cooperate with others. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”