Thorny Situation –
Today working in a friend’s yard I came across several thick, thorny, vines. They were growing up from the ground and had worked their ways into several trees wrapping themselves around numerous limbs. I found the source where they started and sawed it as close to the ground as possible. Then, with a pair of thick gloves, I grabbed and pulled. I was able to get almost ten feet of the vine dragged down before the vines drew a bunch of limbs together and wouldn’t go any further. I asked another friend who was helping to grab a saw and cut the vines as high as he could. He did and the remaining vines popped back up into the trees. Eventually, since they have no connection to the ground, they will rot and die. At the source, a vigilant eye will be needed to make sure it doesn’t start growing again.
Wisdom teaches us there are thorny issues in our lives. They intertwine themselves into many parts of our lives and begin to choke us. They’re sharp and we’re sensitive to the impact they have on us and others. To rid ourselves of them we have to find the source and cut it out of our lives. We also need to be untangled from the hold they have on us. Thorny issues are not easy to get rid of. It will take perseverance and patience until they are fully gone and a vigilant eye to make sure they don’t return.
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The other day I was outside and noticed a large weed had grown up in half of an old wine barrel we use for plants. I grabbed it as close to the soil as I could and pulled on it. Nothing. I reached down again and pulled with two hands and the weed came out slowly. When all of it had finally emerged the root of the weed was almost as long as the weed itself. I noticed another one and removed it. In another pot, there was also a tall weed. I yanked on it and it didn’t budge. I tried again and zero gain. Even with two hands, it wasn’t going anywhere. The roots of the weed had entangled themselves with the roots of the bush in this pot and were only coming out if the bush came out with it.
Reflecting back on the tall weeds I thought about how there are often weeds in our lives. Hurts, habits, and hang-ups that don’t produce anything positive and affirming in us. Often before any of these “weeds” are noticed they have rooted themselves in our attitudes, personalities, words, and actions. When we become aware of them or someone else makes us aware we want to rid ourselves of them. We face our hurts, develop better, more mindful habits and try to untangle ourselves from hangups. Hopefully, they come out and goodness, kindness, and love take their place. However, if we aren’t careful and allow these “weeds” to continue to take root, dig deeper into our souls they become a part of us and we can’t tell where they end and we begin.
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Stop Go Stop –
Yesterday, on my way to a community men’s group in Shelbyville, TN I came upon some road construction. The line of traffic wasn’t too long and there was a man holding one of those signs with “stop” on one side and “slow” on the other. After a few moments he turned the sign around and we began to creep along. Suddenly, after only flipping the sign around he did it again! The car in front of me slammed on its breaks as did I. Raising my shoulders and my hands as if to say; “What’s happening?” I watched the sign man walk across the road to a county work truck in the other lane, throw his sign in the back and hop in. The man was done working for the day. His job was finished and he left the rest of us to figure out how to untangle ourselves from his mess. Eventually, traffic began to move and soon we were all back on our way to our destination.
On the road of life, there are people & happenings which slow or stop our progress. This is not always a bad thing. Rest and reflection give us time to renew and make sure we are still headed in the correct direction. However, there are those times when people are only concerned about themselves and put roadblocks in our way because it makes life easier for them. Wisdom allows us to know the difference between the two and how to navigate around them and get moving again.
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Yesterday I made a promise to my wife. Actually, it was more of a threat. I threatened to leave the hose pipe outside all winter instead of putting it up in the fall. The reason for this is no matter what I try it all seems to be one giant tangled mess when I pull it out in the spring. One of my chores on Thursday was to untangle the jumbled mess of about three hundred feet of hose pipe. First I grabbed and dragged out most of it. Then I detached the ends to make them easier to work with. After this, I pulled each pipe end going over and under the other until I finally had one section free! When I did this six or seven times all the sections were in their own place and then hooking them together again one at a time I was able to run the hose pipe to the different areas of the yard. Whew! It was a hard, difficult job but had to be done.
In my work with men, fathers, and families, the initial times we meet to set up a plan of learning and action can seem like wrestling with a jumbled mess of hose pipe. However, with time and patience slowly learning, finding and breaking down the challenges, habits, hurts, and hang-ups, we can begin to put the pieces back together again.