Too Much of a Good Thing by Michelle Jones

Some years ago I was flipping through channels and saw a news segment about a sheep who had become famous in New Zealand.  She had been given the name Shrek.  What a Disney ogre has to do with sheep is anyone’s guess, but the story got my attention…

Too much of a good thing?

…and then it changed my life.

Shrek was known throughout the sheepherding community.  She was a runaway who had been hiding up in the mountains for six years, and managed to elude recapture several times before the shepherds finally gave up and stopped responding to “Shrek sightings.”

One day a shepherd got a call from a woman who was hiking up in the mountains.  She said she was standing right in front of Shrek and that they could come up and get her.  The shepherd told the woman, who obviously lived under a rock, that she was not the first person who had gotten that close to the animal.  He assured her that by the time they took a man away from his work, gassed up the Jeep, and drove the hour or so up into the hills, Shrek would be long gone, no doubt laughing (if sheep laugh) at the latest mister who missed her.

“You won’t be disappointed,” said the woman.  “Shrek won’t run.  She can’t run.”

The woman took a picture with her phone and sent it down.  Shrek was carrying so much wool on her body that running had become at best an impossible dream.

A little-known fact about our wooly friends:  Sheep born and raised in the mountains never find themselves with too much wool.  They only grow what they need to survive.  Domestic sheep, particularly sheep that belong to a shepherd, are a very different story.  Domestic sheep get sheered, which causes their wool to grow wild and out of control.  Regularly relieving them of it, while good for business, is also necessary for their health and survival.

So after six years away from the clippers, it’s no surprise that Shrek was a bit heavy in the hooves.  The shepherds came up and got her.  The video showed her trying to take a step back when they approached, but she moved like a 300 lb man 1 six-pack, 2 pizzas and 3 quarters into a one-sided football game.  You ever ask that guy to take out the trash?  A head turn, a shift, a grunt, and he gives up.

I remember thinking Shrek looked kind of arrogant with all that wool on her, like she knew she had something people wanted—perhaps even needed—but she had the power to withhold it.

What’s your wool?  What, among your many talents and abilities, is the most obvious and useful to those around you?  Are you holding it hostage?

I’m a writer.  That’s my wool.  For years I kept it close, only pouring into my journals or waxing poetic onstage.  Aside from that, I was stingy because I had been hurt in the past, taken advantage of by people who didn’t care for me past what I could write for them.

I cultivated my other gifts, speaking, teaching, creating, shepherding leaders and others and offered them up instead.  I resented it when people introduced me as “Michelle the writer.”  I was more than that.  When I saw Shrek though, something clicked.

For years I had been saying, “Leave my wool to me!  Look at my leather, my milk, and my meat!  Use my intestines for sausage casings!  There’s so much more to me than my wool!”  How ridiculous is that?  You can’t even see the rest of a sheep until you get past its wool.

I have piles of things I have written that no one has ever seen.  Shouldn’t someone see them?  If I write my books, perhaps I’ll get to speak or teach about what I have written.  If I get my stories out, maybe I’ll make room for more.  If I continue blogging, I might inspire someone I’ve never met, tough people in cities I’ll never visit.  (ooh, elastic!)

If I write…

We’ve all been cheated or taken advantage of.  We have all been misused and abused for our gifts.  If our gift is worth anything—and all gifts are—there will be times when we are lonely because we will offer ourselves to others and they will cling only to what they need and leave the rest.

The way to most of what you have to offer the world goes through your most obvious gift or talent.  That is what will create space for you among people and in places off limits to others.  To be sure, there are poachers and thieves ready to take what they did not earn, and some of what you have will get away from you through painful lessons.  Still, what you have is not your own.  It was put in you to be given through you.  Give it freely and there will always be more of it.

Shrek was carrying 62 lbs. of merino wool on her back, enough for 20 men’s suits.  She was sheered and the money generated from the event was given to a local charity.

What are you carrying around that people need?  What are you holding onto that defines you in the eyes of others and gives you relevance in your community?  What space are you refusing to fill?

Do you have too much of a good thing?



  1. Terri Haywood said,

    January 14, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Oh my goodness. This is so powerful and so true! I can’t get past it to read some of the other postings. Michelle, you are an amazing communicator of life. You are more than brilliant, you are truly gifted and annointed.

  2. mercedes said,

    January 14, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Dear Sister- I am so glad to see you sharing that wool. You are such a blessing. I want to write something deep, profound- to honor what you have shared here, but the best thing that I can find to say is: Thanks. And Welcome back!

  3. Sharon said,

    January 14, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Amen to what Mercedes said. Welcome, indeed. As this resonates with readers, I pray that it may inspire them to face the shears, so many others will be blessed as they become light(er). And for me too. Gimmee those shears.

  4. Jimmy Mack said,

    January 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Oh, thanks a LOT! Now that you’ve begun blogging, I’ll have to find another way to express myself. I mean, I can’t hold a wireless mouse to this! Beautifully brilliant, Mikey.

  5. January 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Wow this is powerful…makes me do some self evaluation.

  6. Lenae Bryant said,

    January 23, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Wow, I love all your stories. They are compelling and very motivational. Keep up the good work, my friend. I have always known that you are a writer. This has always been your gift, which has opened the door for many more gifts to manifest. My oh my, how I have missed you. Love you my sistah, Lenae.

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