I took this photo here in Ireland. It’s a beautiful little pansy growing from solid rock. Beautiful things can grow in hard places… so chin up buttercup!
We all go through tough times, where life is literally as hard as rock, and everyday feels like we are walking through quick dry cement. Look at this pansy: it is fragile, delicate and easily broken, yet it has somehow overcome the obstacles presented to it by the surroundings it is trying to grow in. Feel familiar?
Are you trying to overcome the tests of life? Are you determined to rebuild what circumstances have demolished? Has your courage been ravished by disappointment or heartache? Are there just too many whys and not enough answers? You are not alone in this tough place. But there is always a lesson to learn, and the things that happen on the outside, can bring about a tremendously precious lesson on the inside of us. Changes around us can become the perfect soil for growth on the inside, where nobody sees, but God. Right in this moment of pain, there are gems awaiting your embrace. It’s hard, and absolutely overwhelming, but God will not leave you alone. You may be trying not to be lonely while you are alone, and that could be exactly where God will meet you and change everything about you.
“God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” C.H. Spurgeon
You are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone! You must choose to embrace this painful season, and keep believing that this too shall pass, and one day you will smile again. Not a fake, pretend smile, but a real smile that comes from a truly happy place.
God knows how to get you there. He knows how to get your tender, delicate roots through the hard cement of life, just like the little pansy. The amazing thing is, that although this pansy was in fact tiny, I still saw it. Even in what seems like a season of ‘smallness’ in your life, God will cause the right people to see you, (really see you) and He will show you the why of it all.
Hang in there…even in this hard place, you are still beautiful, inside and out. God sees you and He is guiding you with His eye.
Quite a few years ago, as I was completing my R.T. and I.A.C.T. training to qualify as a counselor, I remember a remarkable story being told by one of my lecturers about a “word of mouth” story she had heard a few years previous herself. Just this week it resounded in my heart and I thought I would share it. At the time we were discussing the different types of people one can meet in this colourful world of ours and the many people we met as counselors. We greatly desired to show unconditional love and warm support to the hurting but also wanted to become better ‘lovers’ of people and help them through their pain. That particular day my lecturer asked the class the following profound question; “Are you a strawberry or a slug?” ~ Those in the room all looked at each other in amusement and became intrigued by her question.. .. .. Many times since that day I have remembered our answers and our descriptions of these two “personality types”. Do you love strawberries? When in season they can be the most luscious of fruits and are remarkably good for the body too. I love the sweet ones, but I absolutely struggle to eat them if they are slightly bitter or too acidic; my facial expressions completely change when trying to swallow a strawberry that is not sweet!
These are some of the nutritional facts about strawberries; Delicious and nutrition-rich red coloured strawberries are among the most popular berries in every country. They are native to Europe, however, nowadays the berries are widely cultivated as an important commercial crop in many temperate regions all over the world. Botanically, the plant is a runner (creeper); and belongs to the family of Rosaceae, of the genus: Fragaria. They were once seen as an exotic fruit, and when out of season can be quite expensive to purchase, but most would feel they are worth the extra financial sacrifice. These berries have a taste that varies according to origin, and they can range from quite sweet to acidic. The strawberry features a red pulp with tiny yellow coloured seeds piercing through its surface from the inside. Their top end has a small, green leafy cap and a stem that adorns the crown. Each strawberry features a conical shape, weighs about 25g and measures about 3cm in diameter. There, I guess you probably have never thought about a strawberry in such intricate detail? They are delicious when served alongside the right dessert or dipped in luscious melted dark chocolate, ice cream or fresh cream. Wild varieties are sometimes available at your local farmer’s market, and are quite delectable!
The strawberry is low in calories (32 kcal/100g) and fats, but are a rich source of many health promoting nutrients, minerals and vitamins essential for maintaining optimum health. They are considered a power food and have potential health benefits in fighting cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases. Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (about 98% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant, and a vital component in helping the body to digest and use its iron intake. See, strawberries really should not be lived without; their presence is beyond brilliant and so valuable to our health. (even the acidic ones – note to self!)
“Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.” ~ William Allen Butler
So are you a strawberry or a slug? A “giver” or a “taker” type of person?
A “strawberry” person adds a certain kind of precious sweetness to your life. When you meet them they are a joy to be around and seem to add to the atmosphere in a colourful and creative way. They want to give more than they take, and there is a sense of kindness about the things they do. They aren’t perfect in all they do, but even in failing or falling they bounce back with a sweet endeavour to improve and grow in their love towards others. Strawberries are lovely, charming and their smile lights up the room. Like the fruit, these “strawberry’ people are greatly pleasing and quite delightful to behold, or have in your life. They are naturally good at drawing out the best in you, the strengths in you, the dreams in you. They have a natural, genuine and tenacious ability to treat you like you are worth a million dollars and invaluable in the contributions you can bring to this world. While they still have their own needs and can share the deepest chambers of their heart with you, there never ceases to be an unconditional positive regard about them. They strive to maintain a sweet unity in pursuing life’s dreams together. These “strawberry” people are rare and unforgettable, yet it is a beautiful compliment that all of us can aim to cultivate these traits in our own lives. They make you feel like you can conquer any mountain, all of your fears, every doubt and achieve your deepest aspirations. To them life is all about mutual giving, and we know that it is more of a blessing to give than receive; indeed in giving we receive a hundredfold back in benefits and love. In serving others as “strawberry” people, we can be sure that when we leave this earth people will remember us with fondness, love, appreciation and delight. I want my epitaph to say “She was a strawberry!” ~ =)
“Strawberry” people are not perfect, as that is just not realistic, but ‘sorry’ is not a word they are afraid to use, and they seek to maintain peaceful harmony as much as possible.
We all know the “slugs” ~ they are usually people who are hurting or angry; and may not be aware their pain causes them to rob from you, steal your peace or remove your joy. They can be quite pessimistic or negative, and life around them is not always easy. They don’t bring health to your bones, and instead can be quite a challenge to walk the road alongside. But if you are a “strawberry” person, then you can help the “slug” person realise the better choices they can make. These “slug” people are usually the kind of ones who have no idea who they are, or how very valuable and precious they are. They cannot see their unique gifts or the beauty that is within them. Many of these types of people take and take from you, demanding more and more time, with very little regard or appreciation. It is quite sad, but usually their world revolves around their comfort and their own needs. We all know some people who are “slugs”, but if you fancy yourself to be a “strawberry” then why not try to help this person make the changes they need to. Of course we cannot change anybody else in this world but ourselves, but we can still choose to be sweet “strawberries” in a world that is growing more and more bereft of what true unconditional love and kindness is.. .. ..
We all have our “slug” days, but let’s at least try to be “strawberries”. =)
“Slugs” are destroyers of all that is sweet, yes it is the way they survive, but most of the time these sad and angry ones desperately want to be free to love without any fear, and give without any limit. “Strawberries” can help ~ by being sweet in the face of those who do not appreciate you; I know it is not easy, and being taken for granted is hard to take day in and day out ~ but there will be a sweet sense of peace in your heart as you lay your head on your pillow at night. There will also be health to your life, knowing that you are not caught up in anxiety and hatred. We all have the potential to be “slugs” ~ never seeing any beauty in the simple things around us ~ never taking the time to love others and really know them; but when the love of God and His unconditional acceptance penetrates our hearts and lives, we are changed. We realise that the love we give away to others is not ours anyway, that only for Him in our lives we would never know the real capacity to selflessly reach out to lift others up. I heard a phrase the other day that saddened me ~ It went like this;
“The less you say, the more people will listen!”
I pondered those words, and remarked to myself how so true it is at time, and how sad it is that our communities are becoming like this. When there is a deep need in a heart to be understood and cared for, the one depended upon may feel overwhelmed and choose to turn away. Do we truly only seek out those who have few needs and therefore avoid giving beyond our own comfort zone? Yes boundaries are healthy, but still we maintain the bond of love and peace as much as we can. It is a good question and I am not saying I have arrived there – some days I wish I were more of a “strawberry”, but I know that seeking to duplicate the sweetness of a strawberry in my personality, makes me a far nicer person to be around, even for me to be around too!
So the next time you sink your teeth into a sweet, ripe, delicious strawberry, stop and think about the incredible potential in you to be more pleasing, loving, graceful, understanding, patient, kind and tasteful in your world.
There are always far more reasons to give back then to hoard and take just for yourself ~ hearts that feel like “slugs” are waiting for the “strawberry” people to show them a better way, a far sweeter way.
Love is not a weakness, it demands the truest form of strength at times ~ It’s a commendable trait and distinguishes you in quite a remarkable and “sweet strawberry” way!