Smart Vulnerability

We were running some errands in town the other day, and I noticed some beautiful thistles.  I stopped the car and jumped out, waded through some weeds and took pictures.  Thistles can grow anywhere, and some consider them a nuisance, but they are also known for having healing and cleansing properties for the liver, heart, and skin.  Of course, there is some wisdom to be found in the thistle as well…

Growing up, I was more inward, shy, and guarded than I am now.  I never wanted anyone to see past the perfect exterior I presented lest they discover some blemishes.

Over time, I realized that pride was the source of my protective wall.  Having children greatly impacted not only my pride but also my ability to keep everything perfect, clean, and in order.  I began to embrace the messy.   Vulnerability was where it was at, right?  How could I be in real relationships with people if I never let them truly know me?  I found myself letting more people in, and the stress levels in my life caused me to often gush or dump everything on the nearest person who would listen.

Well, my kids are a little older now, life doesn’t feel as chaotic, and I have learned a lesson from being overly vulnerable.  Now I find the thistle inspires me to a middle ground.  You can take in its beauty, but don’t try to pick it.  Ouch!  Be beautiful, bloom anywhere you can… show yourself for who you are; but simultaneously be smart and protect yourself.

The wisdom of Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.”  Even Jesus said, “Don’t give something that is holy to dogs. They will only turn and hurt you. And don’t throw your pearls to pigs. They will only step on them.” (Matthew 7:6)

If the thistle never bloomed and remained closed up and prickly, it would never live life, and others would not be blessed by its beauty.

If it opened into bloom with no thorns for protection it would be quickly eaten, its time cut short.

Somewhere in this scenario is a “both/and.”  I want to share myself with those around me, but a little self-preservation may prolong my life and my purpose. 🙂

“Open not your heart to every person. But only to Him who is wise, discreet, and reverant. Desire to be familiar only with God and his angels.” –Thomas a Kempis

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