"Ouch! Those Thorns!"

Like many of you, I prayerfully pick a “theme word” for each new year. It’s a word that represents my hopes and prayers, an expression of the gold thread that I long to see woven throughout the fabric of my year. And my word for 2019 is THRIVE. An accompanying verse for “my word” is that I long to be “a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”(Isaiah 61:3)

Webster defines THRIVE as follows: to grow vigorously, to flourish; to gain in wealth or possessions, to prosper; to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances. Yes, yes, yes to all three of those definitions.

I want to flourish in my present life circumstances. I long to use my God-given gifts in a way that blesses and encourages others and points people to Jesus. I want to experience abundant and healthy growth emotionally, relationally, spiritually, intellectually and physically. Yes, I want to THRIVE!

Oh, that this type of abundant growth could be produced by just swallowing a healthy dose of Osmocote!

I’m far from a Master Gardener, but I know that weeds can keep a plant from thriving. Have you ever dealt with that nasty, thorny vine that quickly wraps around your favorite perennials? It’s ubiquitous and grows like wildfire. Removing the vine can be painful, but constant vigilance is essential to keep this strangling weed under control for the desired plants to be able to flourish.

And I have my own “thorny vines” in life which quickly move in to arrest my growth. I’ll bet you do too! For me, the “thorns” that impale me might be continuing to dwell on deep hurt and disappointment, believing lies about myself or God, self-flogging (I have a black belt) or fixating on the “what if’s” of life instead of the “why nots?”

I know that those “vines” need attending when I am stuck, feeling emotionally frozen or completely uncertain of what to do next. Perhaps you’ve had similar moments of feeling like you’re revving the engine of a sports car (your life) while being in neutral gear.

Here are a few of my strategies for untangling the choking vines in order to thrive:

  • For the deep hurts, I choose to forgive and keep forgiving for as long as it takes.
  • For the self-doubt and lies, I actually list the lies I am believing and negate those lies with the truth. I write out the truth of Scripture to combat each lie I might be believing. That brings great clarity.
  • For self-flogging and perfectionism, I choose to forgive myself and quit looking in life’s rear-view mirror. I try to give myself the same grace that I extend to others. (And yes, this is the most challenging for me.)
  • And for times of worry, I reflect on the many examples of God’s faithfulness in the past. I choose to trust God with the future and try to make some baby steps of progress. I do one right thing. Then I do the next right thing. And before I know it, I’m making forward progress. I’m growing.

Isn’t that what most of us really long to do? To thrive and grow and live productive, God-glorifying lives?

This coming week, I hope you’ll press “pause” and do some reflecting. Think about what thorny vines are stifling your growth. And put some gloves on and start to free yourself so that you, too, can THRIVE in the days and years to come!

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