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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Brambles and the Briars

I've often referred to the journey of life as a tapestry. On one side, you have a plethora of colors, weaving and intersecting in what looks like nothing but tangled knots. When you turn the frame around, what was a tangled mess, emerges as a beautiful picture. That is still the way I prefer to look at life. It may be messy, but in the end a beautiful life will emerge. But when you are in the thick of things, when you are going through the tough stuff....  Life doesn't feel like a tapestry, it feels like you have stumbled into a thicket of brambles and briars. You can't escape life without some bumps and bruises, a little bleeding and scars. Our Savior didn't escape the tough stuff.

The brambles and the briars can be anything that knocks you off your feet, something that jerks the rug right out from under you sending you in a free fall.  They are the failed relationships, broken promises, and unfulfilled dreams that haunt us in our darkest hour. They are illnesses and unexpected deaths that shatter our lives and disrupt the foundation of all that we know. They are the despair you feel when your career tanks, sinking the ship that hasn't quite come in.  They are "the things" that happen to other people until you look up to find them roosting on your doorstep with no warning. They consist of  wild thorns and sharp words, that pierce your heart, ripping wounds so deep you surely think you will not survive. But survive you will. The tough times are not times of beauty, for we cannot see the big picture and often cannot see or feel the hand of God. It isn't until we can look back with tearless eyes and vision that isn't clouded by pain and emotions, that we see them for what they are... A learning place... A kneeling place.

In time.... After you've fought your way through the brambles and briars and back onto a path of healing, that you may gain clarity regarding such a painful time.... Well, sometimes clarity will come, but some times you just have to trust that when the sun begins to shine, you will look back and see some sort fruit or lovely blossoms on the thorny branches that once ripped holes in your heart. Sometimes the fruit is sweet, sometimes it is bitter, but there are always lessons to be learned in the thicket of the briars. There will be scars.... But scars can tell a beautiful story.... A story of healing, a story of hope.

The brambles and the briars in my life may be different than the ones in your life. It is so difficult to watch someone you know struggle through these patches in life. If you've ever been there, you want desperately to gently remove them from the thorns that are ripping every fiber of their heart.  But free them you can't.... All you can do is to be there for them... To be a safe place for them to go to when they are still so tender.  You can meet them where they're at, with no judgement. You can be open arms that embrace the hurting with the healing ointment of unconditional friendship.  You can be the one who whispers God's promises in their ear... To remind them to be gentle to themselves as they heal. You can be an encourager for nothing will zap your courage like the brambles and the briars.  I like it when I can make them smile, for I remember all too well, that smiles can be few and far between when you are tangled in the brambles and the briars.

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