Pain in the Butt
“I’m trying to help you! Let me help you!”
Now. I typically would not be home yelling at my rose bushes for stabbing me in the butt while I’m trying to weed their flower bed. I typically would be in a room with red cabinets, blue light filters, and an assortment of anchor charts that are decorating the walls between shape monsters, classroom expectations, and social-emotional strategies. I would be standing by my whiteboard with the LED lights shining purple and blue and 18 little faces echoing my voice as we dive into what empathy means. I would be crying over a book that I swear is my favorite… just like the last 27 books we have read that year.
I would be wrapping up my reading lesson and they would be getting ready to write. All my energy would be in getting them to grasp a big concept like empathy and why they need closure when they write. I would try to trick them with silly directions or questions. These little people know me well. They know my tricks and they know that I care about them and their little lives.
The rose bushes, however, don’t seem to care that I am now pouring all that energy into them and their little home. My knee is bleeding from bush 2. That bush was dead and I am on a rescue mission and that is the thanks I get?! Rude.
By the time bush 1 stabbed me in the butt, I was done. So there I was covered in dirt and sunscreen yelling at the top of my lungs at rose bushes in my front yard.
The construction crew that is building apartments must have thought I was pretty unstable because they finally stopped parking behind my driveway. Or they might have seen me eyeing their cars with the spade in my hand. Just kidding. Sort of.
Just in case you are reading this a few years from now ….We are in the middle of COVID-19. The world is staying at home to flatten the curve. Face masks are in short supply. Germ-x is making a million. Zoom is now not just the song from Zenon. And schools are closed. Some districts jumped right into online learning. My district is massive. We are not teaching new content. District is streamlining all the work.
This all escalated very quickly. Wednesday, March 11th was normal. Thursday, March 12th we had one school close early, a tornado watch, and a lot of school districts around us closing for the week before spring break. No one at my school knew if we would have school tomorrow or next week. A lot of whispered conversations and “did you hear….”
We were closed that Friday. My students have half-finished flower crafts in their desks. I have math counted out for the next week in my teacher area. I have targets on the board and a quote waiting to be echoed. I have copies on my printer and anchor charts ready to go.
The rose bush attack happened March 27th.
Now, they might say that I attacked them. I mean I did take a saw to bush 2 to get rid of the dead section. But it was all to help them. Getting stabbed by a rose thorn is not a typical kind of pain I experience often. I know how much it hurts to hit my hip on the corner of something. I do that at least 6 times a day at work. Everything in first grade is hip-level and my kids are constantly moving their desks.
I think that is why I got stabbed a million times while I was weeding. I underestimated how much thorns hurt. So I kept getting too close too quickly. At the same time that I was yelling at the bushes, I was also listening to a podcast on peace.
Clearly it was really sinking in.
I finished weeding and stomped off to get a band aid and shower.
Later, I put the song The Blessing by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes on repeat and poured out all my worry, frustration, anger, and pain out in prayer. I even threw in a few complaints about ungrateful rose bushes for good measure.
Then I was reflecting back on those stupid rose bushes and how our thoughts are like the thorns and weeds. See, weeding sucks. It isn’t fun even if you aren’t dodging rose bushes with a personal vendetta.
You and I have so many thoughts on a normal day that our mind is basically a rollercoaster. Throw in an invisible virus, the media constantly scrolling a death count, a thousand tiger king memes, and now our thoughts are on the Smiler in the UK. Google it. Five trains running at the same time. Screens distracting you and 14 inversions. Fun.
So how do we control our runaway thoughts? Luckily, the Bible talks a lot about our thoughts. But it takes effort. We have to be willing to get dirty and pull some junk out. Which isn’t fun especially when the thoughts have deep roots. Thoughts like you will get this virus or you aren’t worthy can have deep roots. They could have taken root when you were little and saw someone you love get sick or when you were left out as a kid. Now, here they are full-grown and soaking in every statistic and post you let in.
You are going to need some tools to get those out. Just pulling on them by listening to a sermon doesn’t get the root. It just brings them to your attention. The weeds in my flowerbed had been there for weeks. My attention just finally turned toward them.
Our mega weed killer for thoughts is the word of God and prayer. But God gave us so many smaller tools to help us access that weed killer.
He created people with a passion for giving guidance to others. People like counselors, therapists, and pastors who are trained and equipped to help you avoid the thorns and dig up the weeds without killing the roses.
He gave us technology to access small groups where we can be guided back to knowing our identity and the power that lives in us. Those groups have people who will point us to verses like 2 Timothy 1:7 that says God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
He gave us power to renew our minds daily to keep the weeds out once we have dug them up and put the weed killer down.
I found that Facebook has become a rose bush full of thorns for me. I find myself going there looking for connection to friends and family (roses) but ending up in the thorns of worry and loss. The tool for that is a nifty little delete button.
He gave us control over what we feed our brains. We get to choose what we focus on.
If you find yourself consumed with weeds and thorns and you don’t see a way out, I highly encourage you to seek professional help. There is a way out.
If you are feeling like you’re on the roller coaster with your thoughts, I suggest taking a hard look at what you are spending your time on and doing. Is it building you up and giving you rest or is feeding anxiety and worry?
Maybe you are struggling with not being able to get rest because you are a parent, working from home, or still working an essential job. You may be feeling like you have lost all control.
Whatever your case, I want you to take five deep breaths right now and then pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Do it.
You still have control over what you focus on. Maybe that isn’t comforting. Maybe you would rather sit on the couch and binge Netflix than deal with the weeds and thorns. I get that. It is SO much easier…generally less bloody too.
I believe that good is going to come from this time. I believe that God is going to transform families, hearts, and minds during this time. I believe that people are going to choose to go weeding and get dirty. I believe that a beautiful garden is going to bloom. I believe that garden will draw people in and change their lives too. I believe that is worth turning off the tv and getting off social media.