Sunday, August 30, 2009

Steppin' Up

This is a story that I read years ago and shared it with Robin. It is one of his favorites that he has told to others many times. I can't find the original author, but if you search it, there are many versions of the story online. I don't know how many times in your life you've felt like an abandoned mule, but I'd imagine that we all do more than once in our lives. Will we let ourselves be buried or will be rise to the top?
A story is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. Somehow the mule fell into an unused well. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth saving. Instead he called his neighbors together and told them what happened. He enlisted their help to haul dirt to the well and bury the old mule in the well to put him out of his misery.

Initially the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck the mule. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a hovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This the mule did, blow after blow. "Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of the well!

What appeared to be burying him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. That's life! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give into panic, bitterness, or self-pity...The adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us! Remember that forgiveness, faith, prayer, praise and hope all are excellent ways to "Shake it off and step up" out of the wells in which we find ourselves.


  1. I'm facing something that is very difficult for me that I haven't wanted to get over. For weeks I have allowed myself to be stuck feeling this way (fully aware that that's what I am doing). I keep thinking that it's time for me to accept things as they are and "step up", so I appreciate this story. I think I will make this my new mantra until I can finally abandon my need to wallow. Thank you :D

  2. I heard a version of this told at a professional storytellers' event. It was amazing. And by the end of the story, the teller had the whole audience reciting along with her, "Shake it off and rise to the next level!" Even after all these years (15+), that chorus comes to my mind in difficult situations. It's a great story and a great reminder.



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