Withered Roses

I've gotten behind in my housecleaning. . . again.  Earlier today, I returned home from running a few errands and realized just how cluttered my house had become.  Mail littered the dining room table.  Shoes were scattered across the floor.  My myriad of bags (school, church, other) vacated every chair around the table.  Unfolded laundry wrinkled away in the basket on the end table in the living room. (I know, I know--worst housekeeper in the world!)  I guess between working all day every day, working Monday and Tuesday evenings and then church Wednesday night, I've been too busy to notice the chaos taking place in my home.

The clincher, I must admit, was the vase of withered roses in the center of the dining room table.  Wasn't it just a few days ago I was marveling at their autumn colors?  Wasn't it recently that I inhaled their lush aroma?  Surely, it was just a couple of days ago when Jason surprised me with the roses simply because he felt I needed a little cheer.  (He was right about that, and the flowers certainly did the trick.)  But now that I think about it, I realize that it's been nearly two weeks since he bought the flowers.  Somewhere along the way, the flowers died, and I was too busy to notice.

As strange as it may seem, it reminds me a lot of my state of being a couple of weeks ago.  Like the flowers, life seemed to take a turn for the worse, though I have yet to pinpoint the exact moment or circumstance that threw me for a loop.  In fact, as more time passes, I'm beginning to wonder if there was anything external about the situation or if it was simply an internal battle. 

Whatever the case, my withered roses displayed an exceptional portrayal of how I felt.  Withered.  Dried up.  Unable to hold my head high.  Weary.  Worn.  The life drained by circumstances beyond my control.  And, the most dreadful of all, tainting the environment in which I dwell.  You see, as I took a close look at the roses this morning, I realized that not only were they dead, but also that a filmy, fuzzy substance has begun to grow within the water.  This reminded me that my attitude and emotional struggles affect far more than myself.  They affect my family, my friends, my students, my readers and even my dogs.  You've heard the saying, "When mamma not's happy, ain't nobody happy"?  Well, I'm afraid that's true to a degree.  Dealing with a negative or deeply discouraged person is not an easy thing to do.  Sadly, during my bout with discouragement, I was so concerned with myself and trying to figure out what was wrong with me that I didn't take into account what my emotions were doing to others.

Meditating on those withered flowers, I can't help but wonder if maybe I was so discouraged a few weeks ago because somewhere along the way, something within me died, and I was too busy to notice.  You know how it is--daily demands, weekly obligations, family schedules, writing deadlines, personal goals.  Sometimes, it just gets to be a bit too much to handle, but we try to do it anyway.  And all along, something within us is withering away without our ever taking notice.  Perhaps it's our joy or our hope or our excitement.  Perhaps life is sapping us of our strength or stripping us of our song.  How do we make it stop?  How do we keep everything alive?

My withered roses died not from lack of water but from lack of food.  When they were cut, they lost their source of nutrition.  Similarly the things in our lives (whatever they may be) may be withering and dying from malnutrition.  Too much stress, too little prayer.  An excess of worry, but a deficiency in Bible reading.  Spending more time trying to make things work than we are spending time with the One who works all things.  Simply put, we're not being fed, and it's our own fault.

I once heard someone say, "I'm too busy to eat," and at the time, I thought to myself, I've never been too busy to eat.  Physically?  Yes, that's true.  But spiritually?  Well, I'm afraid that's a different story.  Please understand, I'm not saying that if you read your Bible and pray regularly that your life will be a bed of roses (no pun intended).  That's simply not how it works.  What I am saying, however, is that the trials are going to come either way.  Wouldn't you rather be strong and nourished for the battle?

Don't allow yourself or any part of yourself to wither.  Stay in the Word.  Keep on your knees.  Draw nigh to God.  And please, whatever you do, don't allow yourself to get so busy that you don't have the time to stop and smell the roses, withered or not.

By the way, does anyone know the number for the cleaning fairy?  I can't seem to find it.

My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. - Psalm 119:25