This is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.
Defeats or setbacks, as I like to think of them, are what make us who we are and are a key part of being victorious. And how fitting that the dynamic is pervasive in nature. For example, if some plants of the same variety, age, size and living conditions are treated the same except one plant is pruned, the plant that’s been cut or “stressed” will eventually be much stronger and more productive than the one which was untouched.
Several years ago I was so curious about this phenomenon that I tried it with two rosebushes in my yard. These plants were about four feet apart, had been planted at the same time, taken care of the same way, and were about the same size. At the end of one summer, I whacked one of them down to about six inches. When I was done, I stood back to look, and the drastically pruned bush looked rather forlorn if not desolate as it stood in the shadow of the other bush. I felt I had gone too far, and during the winter, I fretted over killing that bush every time I looked at it, which was every time I pulled into my garage. There were a few times I was so irritated at what I’d done that I just wanted to dig it up and throw it away so it would not be around to remind me of my stupidity when the spring came.
Then spring came, and the little bush began to grow. A friend of mine who was the county agent at the time told me in order to really see the full effect stress can have, I could not give into the temptation to “baby” the pruned bush. It was hard, but I didn’t given in. The little bush got the same food and water the other bush received, and not long into the growing season, it was a foot or less shorter than the other bush. By the time the growing season was in full swing, the little bush was not only taller than the other one, but it was bursting with blooms. The other bush had about a third of the blooms.
One day when I was out in the yard, a neighbor came over and asked me what kind of food I was giving the bigger rosebush. I had to laugh when I told her what I had done, but there were also tears in my eyes. Not because I was so attached to a plant but rather I felt that little bush took what I gave it and made the most of it. That somehow it was grateful for just being there and getting fed and watered, and its response was to bloom!
This year SO and I have been been cut down numerous times. And it happened again the other day, but we have both been reviewing the purpose of this, and it’s not just because someone was thoughtless or mean and we suffered as a result. It’s worked more than that in us. We are grateful to be here, and despite the hardships and the touch and go existence at times, we are blooming. Maybe if I didn’t know God, I would still be in the same place. But I do know God, and it seems in His infinite wisdom He knows what He’s doing when hardship happens, and it can always produce something good even when things look like hell.
I can honestly tell you that if it weren’t for God, I would have done myself in by now from some of the things I’ve seen and experienced in the whole of my life. I look back on some events, and I can’t even believe they happened. Some will say I’ve created God as a coping mechanism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I know all of the hardships that happened when I was younger have done nothing but prepare me for what I faced this last year and also created a firm belief there is something greater than myself. So I’m glad for the cutting. Mostly, I’m glad to know that when stress is present, I still have hope, and that there is not only life after the stress but life while in it.
note: I realize this is not the subject of this blog, but I never promised to always talk about Richard Armitage. Maybe when I’m done with this series, I’ll go back to my insanity and we can all have a good laugh. For now, I’m hanging with this. :)