Friday, August 18, 2017

The Thorn in my Side - by Heidi McLaughlin

They are the bane of my existence but I can’t ignore them any longer.  The twelve large rose bushes that create a private hedge around my lower patio are covered in limp petals and desperately need pruning. Twice a year for over twenty-one years I’ve gritted my teeth, gathered my tools, put on my ragged long sleeved pruning shirt and tackled the thorns.  But this year I don’t have Jack to gather the debris and make it disappear. Ok kiddo, you’re on your own, give it all you’ve got!

Almost three hours later I’m sweaty, dirty and tired but the pruning is done and the debris hauled up the hilly side of the house to be recycled over a period of time.  As I stop to gulp down an entire water bottle, I see the blood on my arms and the side of my t-shirt where the thorns grabbed me and took pieces of skin. Why do I put myself through this misery?

Then I remind myself about the months of June and July.  Those days when I sat on the lower patio with my feet up reading a great book and surrounded by a hedge of bright pink petals and buds. Those thorny bushes had to be pruned to create this captivating beauty.

The pruning experience made me reflect on those times when I feel “thorny.” 
  • ·      Someone won’t let me merge
  • ·      A cashier chatting up a storm and holding up the line
  • ·      Someone who compares the pain of my second husband’s death to the loss of her dog
  • ·      When you’re having a bad day on the golf course and someone gives unwarranted advice and says: “When was the last time you had lessons?”

The apostle Paul, the greatest recorded missionary in the Bible had a “thorn in his side” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Three times Paul pleaded God to take this thorn away but God said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, live with it, learn from it and in the harsh process become more like Christ.

Christ shed His blood so that we can be free to love each other and pass on His undeserving grace. I was willing to shed some blood for my rose bushes, but am I ready to put up with some emotional pain and extend grace to those things that feel “thorny?”

By the grace of God I am trying. I know that in the future when I feel “thorny” I will recall the blood on my sleeves and the pile of dead rose petals and pruning. Showing grace is beautiful but hard. But through the process I am becoming more beautiful from the inside out.

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. Heidi has been widowed twice. She is a mom and step mom of a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her family and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Including a FREE downloadable Study Guide) is now available at;, or her website:


Kelita said...

Thanks for the this Heidi. So rich and full. I love can relate! Bless you my friend.

Peter Black said...

Thank you, Heidi. Had you posted a piece say, a year or more ago, using this 'thorny' analogy, I've no doubt it would have been interesting and helpful to your readers. However, your journey during this period surely lends greater poignancy to what you've now written, while transmitting the perfume of grace. ~~+~~

Ruth Smith Meyer said...

How I identify with you! Some of those jobs he always took care of and now all of a sudden there is no "other" one to do it. Another learning curve Hang in there and know that not only God cares, but a lot of others feel for you.

Glynis said...

Oh Heidi, how your heart shows in your writing. Yes, life would seem like it would be a lot smoother and less prickly if only we could have it our way. But God, as much as we sometimes kick and scream and think it would be better without the thorns, knows better. I always see such a strong dependency on God in your writing - and that encourages me. Thanks.

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