Sunday, November 21, 2010

"i gave her roses...

today while i was studying at O'Henry's {chatting with friends and listening to music with a study guide on the table in front of me} i took a bathroom break and noticed a painting hanging on the wall above the thick silver wheelchair handle. The painting was forgettable, the phrase scripted across it was not.

"I gave her roses..." it said across the top,

"-and she blames me for the thorns" followed at the bottom.

for a split second i thought about the quote in terms of romantic relationships and i made a mental note never to be the kind of wife who notices thorns before roses.

but as i stood there washing my hands, the words began to sink in more deeply and i started to consider them in terms of my Heavenly Father and i realized that if He were the kind to complain or hold grudges, he would probably have written the quote from the forgettable painting across the sky or carved it into a mountain or something else noticeable that would get the point across.

"i gave her roses...and she blames me for the thorns."

as i left the bathroom and turned the corner back towards my table, i considered the figurative roses God has lovingly placed in my hands in my lifetime. so often i've failed to acknowledge the beauty before me. the colors and the sweet smells He meant for my blessing—to turn my face to His—but i've noticed only the thorns.

"i'd rather not be blessed at all," i've said, "than to have to touch these thorns or to risk touching them."

i've crossed my arms and laced my fingers, refusing the gift from the One who knows and loves me best—all because i thought i knew better than to touch the roses that He purposefully created with thorns in the first place.

thanks to some extensive googling, i now understand that without thorns, roses would doubtfully make it more than a few days in full bloom, as predators would have nothing to deter them from stealing a mouth full of richly colored petals. in other words, though painful, the thorns are a life-giving source to the beauty {i actually don't like roses that much, but we'll pretend....} that opens at the end of the stem.

i think that one reason i chose my eating disorder over my life for so many years was that i refused to see any purpose in life's thorns other than pain. I forgot all about the roses the thorns were protecting and grew bitter and angry towards the One who'd grown them. i turned my face from His and set out to make a way for myself in which i could have all that i thought life should entail without any of the thorns.

but what i failed to understand for all for all of those years was that was that in avoiding the thorns, i was avoiding the beauty that they could have made possible. the pain He allowed me was meant for shaping and molding and making me into a woman capable of receiving a blessing and keeping and tending it for His glory. the pain of the thorns was intended to magnify my need for him, thereby magnifying the beauty of the roses He offered me. what i failed to realize was that joy in Him is so often made possible through preliminary pain.

i dare not say my understanding of pain and its purpose is complete now by any means. what i will say, however, is that i'm going to make a conscious effort from here on out to embrace both thorns and roses; to trust that my Creator put the thorns and the smooth parts just where they were needed and nowhere else. I'll blame Him not for the thorns, but thank Him for the flowers and for His provision for their protection.




  1. your posts always inspire me and make me want to stay in recovery! you dont know how much your blog has helped me and i have only met you once, you have made an impact on my life and i appreciate it so much!!! have a great day!

  2. EA, you write beautifully! This post reminded me of Isaiah 61:3 and how only God can make beauty from ashes.
    I love the New Living Translation version:
    To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
    a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
    In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
    Your blog is so beautiful and transparent. Whenever I think of you from now on, I will pray that God takes whatever ashes you are struggling with and continues to turn them to beauty and that in the midst of those struggles you will continue to see and believe that it will all one day be beauty for His glory.
    Hope you are well!
    Caroline Bell