For the past several months I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how grateful I am for all of the good things in my life. And just when I thought that all was well, I discovered that I apparently have let a bitter root take hold in my spirit. It is akin to looking at something wonderful and being only able to see the flaws in it instead of the beauty.
I really like it when it is the other way around.
I have been blessed with wonderful friends yet I am frustrated by someone who doesn't appear to like me for reasons that only she knows. Frankly, it is none of my business what other people think about me, and it may be more a case of apathy than true dislike. I can think of nothing I can actually point to and say...well, it must have been THAT. Nope, we haven't had that much interaction.
There have been only a few conversations over the time of our acquaintance although we run in the same circles. It is almost as if we are part of the background to each other respectively, and have really been quite fine with that arrangement. Or so I thought. But obviously, somewhere along the line of fifteen years...I started keeping score.
Sad, isn't it? Because I'm fairly certain that I'm the only one with the problem.
In all of our lives there are disappointments. There are awards we didn't receive, crowns we didn't wear, and accolades that were meant for another. We may have played our hearts out only to lose our spot to someone who cared far less about it. We may have been overlooked, undervalued, or just plain passed over. And the little wounds that were made never quite healed properly. But, of course, we all eventually get over it.
We grow up, choose our friends, see the faithfulness of God, and we heal. We spread our wings and we excel and begin to think that all is well. Those old wounds are all forgotten...and we assume...truly no big deal. We think that we are beyond caring about what was so very important to our younger selves because we see that for some...those awards and accolades really were the best years of their lives. As adults...we are supposed to be wiser...more forgiving...and more spiritually mature. We begin to trust that the garden of our lives is well tended and that the smoke from the chaff burning that needed to take place has long since dissipated. Other than normal maintenance...and the occasional transplant...we're just enjoying the garden instead of working ourselves to death tending it.
And then we find a bitter root growing up through it all.
I don't know what it is that bothers me so much about this, and I strongly suspect that she doesn't know...and probably wouldn't care if she did. She is living her own life, dealing with her own difficulties, and managing the best she can...just like me. At best, she'd be sad to be misunderstood and at worst she'd think I need to get over it because it is what it is. And that much is true.
It really is.
Since I've realized it's there...I've been plucking at that root...tugging at it and making every effort to keep it from dropping any other seeds as I do. After all, in an immensely wonderful garden of friends, there are bound to be a few weeds. It happens.
In the garden there are many types of friends. People who are wonderful but only want to go through the good times with you. Folks that want to share their deepest problems with you and expect for you to do the same. Friends that are in your life for a season of time to share a seat in the bleachers or to make your workday tolerable. People that will tell it like it is and will invite and expect you to do the same. Or some that make you think differently of yourself because of their immense faith in you and what you could do if you'd just get out of your own way.
I have all of these varieties of friends in my garden of life. And I'm actually blessed beyond measure that I do. Some are vintage and others are newly planted...but each is beautiful in its own way. While there is room for other friends...there really isn't any room for the bitter root that has taken up residence.
I've quit tugging on it and have realized that getting it out is as simple as accepting that there we don't have anything in God's big plan that our being friends would actually accomplish. That may change someday...and if it does...it certainly won't have done any good to harbor resentment. Life's too short. And besides...the Rulebook hasn't given me permission to act like I'm 12. Not at 47, anyway.
So, it is up to me to let it go. And I am doing that...right now.
I feel lighter already...