She extends the bouquet to me with a smile and I inhale the heady sweet smell of the rose. Not a store bought, hot house rose, but one that has been gathered on the vine from her backyard along the fence line. Deep red, it gives off a sweet smell that causes me to close my eyes for just a second and just take it in. Just enjoy.
I reach for the bouquet to hold it closer, I want to breathe it in. As I let my fingers touch the soft velvet petals, the thorn, invisible at first glance hidden under the green leaf, finds its target in the soft fleshy part of my index finger. I snatch my hand back in time to see the drop of blood forming and it trickles down, staining everything it touches.
The beauty of the flower is diminished by the sting that I will carry all day. Every time I type, or reach for a glass of water, or smooth my dress a small sting remains. Imperceptible to everyone, but me. I feel it. Even when the blood is gone and you cannot even see the small stab anymore, I feel it.
And so it is with our words. Almost imperceptible are the small thorny pieces that cause pain. The beauty of the complement or questions of concern can sometimes disguise the jab that comes once you foolishly reach out to not just hear the words of flattery, but to bring them in where you can embrace them and believe them.
The words, smelling as sweet as a red rose, are laced with tiny barbs that one may not even see at first but later, in retrospect, you can feel the pain the thorn left in your finger. The pain that will follow you, haunt you all day.
The lesson? That one person, who hurts you with the barely spoken innuendo, the slight inflection that questions instead of affirms, will hurt you when you least expect it. And you are foolish if you extend to embrace the flattery. Don’t believe your own press. Smile and, if you like, take a faint whiff, but be wise. Don’t pull those words in to own them. When you believe and embrace what is said, they have the power to hurt you. The offhand comment, meant to leave you wondering or perhaps knowing the deeper meaning can do more than ruin your day, it can cause you to doubt what The Father has told you is true.
Enjoy the flowers from afar, where the thorns cannot bother you. The Father offers instead an entire garden of wildflowers that you can wander through with Him. No thorns. You can trust Him. Everything He says is true.