Thorns, Addiction, and Hurting Those We Love
Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. Proverbs 22:5
I love the Sonoran Desert of the Southwest. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a giant playground of trails and mountains just made for hiking, biking, and exploring. It’s also a dangerous place though. While hiking, I’ve stepped on a rattlesnake and while biking, I’ve fallen into a cactus. The desert is beautiful, but it is filled with things that hurt when I get too close.
As I read today’s passage about thorns and snares, I realized the Southwest isn’t a bad metaphor for life. Life is an amazing journey, but it’s full of sharp things that cause misery when I touch them. Where the illustration breaks down, is that in the desert, I can just pull out the spines and move on, thankful that I was the only one who was injured. In life though, when I fall into a cactus, I’m not alone in my pain.
When I fell into addiction, I didn’t fall by myself. Everyone around me got covered in thorns. I may tell myself I’m not hurting anyone when I wander from the path, but there is always some price to pay. Now, in my recovery, the temptation is to become complacent. I may stay away from one particular cactus, only to fall into another. I’d like to say that I stopped hurting those around me when I found sobriety, but unfortunately, I’m still prideful, gluttonous and self-centered. There are a lot of cacti in the desert.
This is why today’s passage implores us to continually and purposefully avoid the thorns of this world. We often think that following God just magically removes all the distractions and our desire to wander from the path, but this is not the case. Embracing Christ means we have the freedom to follow him, but it also means we have the freedom to wander. When we wander, we hurt ourselves and those around us. Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. When we follow him, we grow life, joy and peace for ourselves and those we love.