Don’t Ignore the Empty Patches
/ Author: Andre van Heerden
/ Categories: Blogs, Newsletters, National /
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Don’t Ignore the Empty Patches

If you don’t fill your time with positive, healthy pursuits, something else likely will

By André van Heerden, Communications Director

The other day I looked out at my back lawn and noticed that weeds had sprouted up in a dead patch of grass. Why is it that only weeds ever grow in those patches? With grass all around it, shouldn’t it be more likely that grass would grow there? And even when I sometimes put grass seed down with new soil on the patch, weeds always seem to take root.

Aristotle coined the phrase nature abhors a vacuum, and it’s a way of saying that if something is missing or empty, something will fill its place. In the case of lawns and gardens, that would be weeds.  

It reminded me of empty times in work or in daily life. What happens when we find ourselves with nothing to do?

The other day when I was checking out my groceries, I warned the teenaged clerk that I had a large load, and if he didn’t stack the food on the conveyor belt, we would end up spilling over on to a second one and holding others up. He said he liked the extra work as it made the day go quicker when he was busy and challenged.

I find the same thing with my days.

A few years ago, my wife and I noticed a difference in how our young children played. When my daughters had a friend over, we’d know something was wrong if there was a commotion or yelling. When my son had a friend over, we’d know something was wrong if there was silence.

The boys’ type of play was often loud, rambunctious, and physical. When they became quiet, they were either injured or up to something.

Idle hands are the devil’s tools. And for kids and adults, I think it’s pretty accurate.

If you’re busy with a full-time job, you don’t have much time for bad habits or vices.

If you’re busy looking after a family, they’ll keep you honest and in need of a good night’s rest.

If you’re busy keeping fit or doing a hobby or enjoying time with friends, or deepening your faith, you’re focussed on enjoying and pursuing those things. 

But if you don’t fill your time with positive, healthy pursuits, something else likely will.

Eccentric gambler and collector Charles Caleb Colton wrote, From its very inaction, idleness ultimately becomes the most active cause of evil; as a palsy is more to be dreaded than a fever. The Turks have a proverb which says that the devil tempts all other men, but that idle men tempt the devil.”

Make sure to take care of those bare patches in your work and in your life. Fill them with something good before the weeds move in.

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