Imagine with me a sapling that takes root in fertile soil. Someday, it will become a beautiful oak with branches spreading forth to provide shelter and shade.
However, beside this sapling grows a vine, full of thorns. As the sapling sprouts forth from the earth, the vine reaches for its trunk and takes hold.
The two begin to grow together.
At first, the sapling isn’t affected as the vine slithers its way around and around, meticulously executing its plan. But, as the sapling grows, the thorns from the vine sink their teeth into its trunk. A deadlock for growth takes place as the vine strangles the young oak.
Will the oak shed the thorns and become all that it was created to be?
Or, will remain but an immature sapling, strangled by the thorns in its life?
There are so many times when I feel like that oak. Thorns fight for my attention and affection–they keep me from flourishing.
It would be easy if these thorns weren’t attractive, but most of the time they are. Their lure masks them as beneficial, noble, and prosperous. More often that not, just plain fun.
But the truth is, thorns have one purpose: to keep us from growing.
I am learning to recognize my thorns and, hopefully, shed them.
Maybe you need to shed some thorns too.
Online, words like platform and brand and hustle are used to describe how we engage people in this ever-developing social context. These catch phrases and words provide a great analogy, but they can quickly become piercing thorns when we serve them.
At work, we are motivated by words like bonus, profit, and bottom-line. If left unchecked, thorns emerge. As Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is good”, right?
Sometimes, thorns can even be people–relationships that hold us back, keep us from growing.
If you’re having a hard time finding your thorns, try listening for them.
It’s not a big deal.
You’re just having fun.
It’s just part of the process.
You deserve it.
You’re in control.
These voices are the voices of thorns.
Whether it’s reality tv, religion, or retail therapy, we all have thorns.
But how do we remove them?
In a story in the New Testament, known as the Parable of the Sower, Jesus speaks of sowing seed:
“Other seed fell among thorns which grew up with it and choked the plants…The seed that fell upon the thorns stands for those who hear, but they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:7,14
In this parable, He’s speaking of the Gospel, the Good News, but I thought it a great analogy to look at our lives as well.
The first key is the soil. Thorns can’t flourish in fertile soil. The soil rejects the vine and opts for the flourishing oak. In Redefine Rich, I talk about our soul as the soil of our lives. It is the deepest part of us.
In our lives, fertile soil is a blend of gratitude, generosity, and humility. We must cultivate those to weed out the thorns.
Lastly, know your identity. Do you really believe that you were created to be an oak? If no one has ever told you, I am telling you today. You were created to be an oak.
Knowing your true identity helps you disassociate yourself with things that prevent you from becoming your true self.
So friends, be an oak today. Shed your thorns and start to flourish.