on Thorns

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln

Is there anything in your life that you wish were just not so? Something that if removed, you think would make your life so much better? Perhaps you struggle with an illness, or the loss of a loved one, or you are unemployed or are in a hurtful relationship or you are generally feeling alone. We all have that one thing, just that one thing that seems to interfere with life being more beautiful, more complete. We cry out, wondering why we must deal with it, and why other’s lives seem to be so much better than ours. Why can’t life be perfect, a rose garden without thorns?

Unfortunately, that is not the hand we are dealt. We live in an imperfect world populated by an imperfect people. So what to do? I believe that there is something in all of us that instinctively knows that we would never become a stronger people if we lived a life of ease or without care. If we do not grow and improve, we would easily become fat and lazy. It is only human to take the path of least resistance. Without struggles we would never learn the strength it takes to persevere.

We are all given thorns in our lives to deal with. Anyone who tells you different is lying. We all have things that hurt us, and I wonder what our nation would be like if we were all just a little more honest with each other on what those things were. Our humanness is the very thing that can connect us but lately it seems to be the one thing that is driving us apart. We refuse to acknowledge our own imperfections and in doing so, allow our thorns to not only make our own lives ugly, but make ourselves ugly as well.

Not all of us have the same thorns in life, or on the same path in our struggles. Therefore we are perfectly situated to help each other. We as a people can learn to become stronger because of thorns, not despite them, and go on to share this knowledge to others. It not only makes us stronger, but allows us to really connect as human beings. We will understand each other more, and perhaps hurt each other a little less.

Unfortunately, not all thorns can make a person stronger, or increase their compassion for their fellow human beings. Sometimes a person can use the pain and turn it inward, growing weaker in understanding and stronger in their bitterness. Instead of learning perseverance, people learn how to cheat. Instead of having compassion, they learn to be mean. I have seen it happen, when people allow the ugliness on the inside to show on the outside. I know people like this, and it is a sad thing.

I wish that life was perfect, but like a rose garden, life is still beautiful despite its thorns. It is unreasonable for imperfect beings to expect a perfect life, because it is the very struggle against life’s thorns that makes us who we are, and leads us to becoming that very person we were created to be. If there were no struggle, then there would be no need for strength. If there was no yearning for perfection, then there would be no need for perseverance. And if there were no hurt, then there would be no need for hope. Would we even recognize that our life was perfect if there was nothing negative to compare it to? Or for that matter, if we were truly perfect, would it even be necessary for those thorns to prick us?

That thorn in your side can be your downfall or your source of strength. You alone can choose its fate… and yours.

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