In San Antonio I was the proud owner of my personal Botanical Gardens. Literally hundreds of vines, plants, bushes and ornamental trees graced every square foot of my front, back and side yards. Like most Master Gardeners, I was addicted to greenery of all kinds and needed a chlorophyll fix daily. My plants lived in perfectly amended soil; each receiving the proper light, moisture and nutrients. Hundreds of worms were purchased to keep the soil aerated and Lady Bugs and Praying Mantis were imported to keep the bad bugs away. Needless to say…everything I planted thrived.
Our move from San Antonio to the country meant having to carefully uproot and transport at least 6 specimens of everything I owned. This was an arduous task that only a fanatic gardener and her dedicated husband would undertake. We filled our 16′ trailer to capacity 4 times before we were able to complete the mission, but they all arrived to their new home in fine condition.
However, this new environment with its sandy loam was foreign to me. Transplanting my pampered treasures without having them go into shock required a delicate balance in temperature, soil, water and the right location. I placed them all under the shade of a tree, watering them daily as I studied the environments around my property. Then I began to design my new garden to ensure that my plants received the right amounts of shade and light, and were protected from these high winds. Since sandy soil does not have the nutrients needed to make plants flourish, adjustments were made to the soil to fit the specific needs of each.
The point here is that great care, time and money were spent on keeping hundreds of plants alive and well nourished. They began to grow and blooms of all colors and fragrances sprung forth, attracting hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. I was in heaven again! Every morning I’d take a quiet stroll, with coffee cup in hand, to start my day meditating on God’s goodness and creative genius.
Until the morning the cows came. That horrible morning, instead of peace and beauty, I was greeted by complete chaos and destruction. The first thing I noticed was that my very expensive specimen tree had been uprooted by the cow still chewing on one of its branches. I soon realized that most of my one-of-a kind-plants had been eaten to the ground. The blood drained from my head for a moment, and rapidly rose again when I saw dozens of cows partaking of the few plants still standing. As frightened as I am of cows (remember I am a city gal), I charged at them full force. They bolted in all directions as I ran frantically waving my hands yelling non-sense at the top of my voice. My husband shot out of the house, ran interference to keep the cows from running over each other, and herded them to safety as I stood in stock looking at the mess they’d left behind.
Not realizing that cattle proprietors consider cows of more importance than landscaping I took the liberty of mentioning this incident to the person who owned the cows, hoping for at least an apology. The gentleman looked blankly at me, nodded his head and bid me a good day. His response surprised me, but I worked hard at considering his perspective and managed not to get offended. However, I began to hate cows. Just watching them graze in the neighbor’s field made my blood boil. The nerve!!! I hated them a lot for a very long time. Then, one day I noticed how every animal expresses itself according to its nature, and resolved that none of them can help doing what they do. So, I forgave them.
Years later this incident helped me to understand and to forgive the way some people are. Paul describes these people by their behavior to the Galatians, saying;‘it is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable additions; ugly parodies of community.’(The Message)
The bible says that we are all born with this craving to appease our desires, and will continue to‘feed the compulsions of selfishness’if we don’t choose to let Christ control our lives. Salvation changes our self-centered nature into one that is motivated by God’s Spirit. Paul tells us what happens when we live God’s way…‘He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.’
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this type of transformation in abrasive, abusive people?
Until then, let’s not take offense or hate people who can’t help behaving the way they do. It’s in their nature. Let’s pray for a change in their hearts instead.