Grace Line

Graceline: Find your pony in the dung heap

May 11, 2014 

My two favorite presidents were Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Both were master storytellers. Both used stories to convey their messages and get their points across. So did Jesus. Anthony de Mello said the shortest distance between the truth and the heart is a story.

Please allow me to share one of President Reagan’s favorites.

There once was a pair of twins. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities – one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist. 

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears . “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?”

“Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did, I’d only break them.” 

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.  

“What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked.

“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!” 

The quality of your life has little to do with your circumstances. However, the quality of your life has everything to do with how you respond to your circumstances.

Chris Rosati, 42, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is a disease in which the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord deteriorate and are unable to send messages to the muscles. Eventually the muscles atrophy from lack of use and ultimately leads to death. There is no known cure.

Chris concocted a wild scheme to steal a Krispy Kreme doughnut truck and ride around giving them away. He wanted to be like Robin Hood, stealing cholesterol from the rich and giving it to the poor.

Krispy Kreme learned of the plot and brought Chris a huge bus filled with doughnuts. They spent the day on this rolling sugar high stopping at parks, cancer wards and children’s hospitals. They ended their journey at Chris’ old high school passing out smiles and doughnuts to everyone.

Chris said if dying has taught him anything, it is how to live. Life is like a doughnut. You only go around once, and you have to make people smile while you still have the chance. He said if he could not use his lot in life to positively impact people, then the whole thing was a waste.

Chris found his pony amid his manure pile. Are you going to let the stench of yours drive you to despair, or are you going to start digging? There’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere. And that’s the hole truth!

Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey at Lake Wylie. Visit for more information.

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