by Christine Berglund
The stunning salvia in my swampy area is a study in contrasts. The bright, electric blue flowers are borne on striking black stems above the yellow-green foliage. It’s an eye-catcher, for sure. Its name is “Black-And-Blue Salvia,” or Salvia Guarantica. As with many oddly-named floral gems in the garden, it makes one think.
We Christians are gentle people generally, not prone to becoming black and blue by any other means than a clumsy step or two. My garden chores give me plenty of practice with that!
We are not called to an easy life as Christians. Similarly, gardening has never been all about sitting on the patio sipping herbal teas. Sure, that might be a part of it, but the day-to-day activities in the flower borders and beds lend themselves to bumps, bruises, soreness, sprains, strains and even broken bones.
Why do we act surprised or disappointed when life bruises us? Isn’t that part of the package? Our freedom to live life to the fullest as a Christian is fraught with risks –and not just risks, but injuries and wounds that will leave lasting scars.
A sharp nick by a shovel might be met casually with the words, “That’ll leave a mark.” A harsh word from a family member or coworker might bring the feeling, “I can’t believe that happened! I’m devastated.”
While it is true that sticks and stones can break our bones, words can and do hurt worse. They might leave scars inside us that don’t ever fade.
What if we stopped expecting our lives to be free from any emotional injury? Couldn’t we be more effective if we could take some pummeling and still get right back up and go on? We do that with physical injuries. We can do it also with black-and-blue marks that go deeper.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10, NASB).
Maybe it’s time for us to realize that “hurt happens.” We don’t want to be so thick-skinned that we are callous and unfeeling, but not so tender-hearted that the bumps and bruises of life cripple us spiritually.
The patch of Black-And-Blue Salvia is a haven for boisterous butterflies and hovering hummingbirds. See? Black and blue can still be useful and attractive. So can I.