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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Johnson

Thorns or Prickles

I read a bit of trivia that surprised me and challenged something that I had been believing most my life. I love a challenge, especially if it challenges an old belief system or thought that needs to be changed no matter how badly I want to hold on to it because it’s comfortable or familiar. I recently told someone just because you don’t believe or think something isn’t true doesn’t mean it’s not true. It may be hard for you to reconcile or accept but wouldn’t you rather know the truth and change your mind-set than live a lifetime deceived? What about an opportunity for growth and development? Sometimes we are so busy “living life” with all its challenges, disappointments, suddenlies, emergencies and stresses, that we fall into an unhealthy comfort zone and may become emotionally numb. Every now and then it’s good to do a mental health check-up with a professional or someone you trust to speak truth vs. agreeing with you and the lies/untruths you have grown to believe to be true.

My cousin Joann gave my mother (her aunt) a beautiful bouquet of red roses. They dried and mother couldn’t bear to throw them out, so, I sprayed them with a preservative so she could enjoy them for a while longer. But mother had to come to grips with the fact that they had dried out, all the life was out of them. They couldn’t be handled as before. To touch them would mean they would crumble. As I was researching how to preserve them, I ran across an interesting fact. Which at first, I thought wasn’t true until I did in-depth research. Those stingers on the stem or branches of roses are not “thorns” (as I have believed all these years!). They are called “prickles.”

Why do roses, as beautiful as they are have “prickles?” Why do our lives as beautiful as we were created to be have test, trials, sickness, disease, stingers? Could there be a purpose that makes sense? I learned that roses really don’t want to be harvested. Those prickles are there for a reason. Including protection from herbivorous predators and humans. Roses are natural climbers, and the climb is usually laborious. Prickles are their hands and feet, the hook that helps anchor the rose branches as they climb. Those pretty roses were created to dominate, they are strong and monopolize the sunshine choking the life out of other plants (usually weeds) that are in their way as they climb upward and at times downwards.

While thorns and prickles preform the same function of defense against predators, the difference is where they originate from and their strength. Unlike a thorn, a prickle can be broken off because it is not skin deep it’s an outgrowth of the outer layer of the branch. As I think about that each time it helps me realize that the things that come against me can only become embedded deeply in my soul (my mind, will, emotions) if I allow them to. Where they grow and the extent of their hold on me is determined by me.

So, now, my goal becomes when things which appear negative and/or hurtful come against me to focus on the lesson(s) to be gained. To not allow the adversities of life to grow into roots of bitterness, disappointment, or despair. I focus on the fact that the Creator has a great plan for my life which allows prickles to come from time to time to help me climb over the adversities because they didn’t come to stay; they can be broken off. As I travel the path destined for me, I never cease to be amazed how things work out for my good, my growth and my development. I have to make a conscious effort to be thankful for everything despite what comes into my life. When I focus on the good goodness happens, doors open, doors close. Author Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for The Soul) puts it this way: “You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.” A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons.” That reminds me of the song lyrics in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Lion King, “It’s the Circle of Life.” The words to that song ring eternal in my soul. I love what President Biden said in his State of The Union Address, “Everything is a possibility.”

Be determined to live life the way it was intended be lived: learning and living, living, and learning…the circle of life.

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