During transitional Autumn, I marvel at the tendrils that roving gourd plants shoot out into the garden. Among dry and yellowed corn stalks, the leafy profusion of yams, and caged tomatoes still trying to yield tasty fruits, those green spirals invade. In the case of a wigwam my sons and I wove into the dying corn, those tendrils conquer, as half the little house has collapsed from the pressure and pull of it all. In the case of our walking paths, those tendrils coerce, as we now find little swaths of ground to use as stepping stones throughout the garden. Even in our yard, where those vines ripen into butternuts or birdhouses or pumpkins, the lawnmower tracks a trail around the encumbrance.
I find people treat relationships the same way - do you, friend? We avoid, we overlook, we ignore what we don't understand, don't want to know, or cannot change. Often our words and body language are used to conquer another, coerce a variant opinion, or shun someone until we know what to say (which often never comes). We malign. We belittle. We deride.
What if we were more empathetic? In our culture, we're taught to suppress emotion and pain, to "suck it up" or "let it roll off your back." But, when we do this, we ignore an essential part of what it means to be human. We have emotion and pain for a reason, and when we use them to communicate in ways that heal, uplift, and encourage - we reveal the beauty of communication, of reaching out to the other sojourners we meet in life.
There are so many broken situations in our lives. We see them everyday and do nothing about them. We pass them on the street; we avoid them in our homes; and we even overlook them in our own hearts. Take a moment to really consider your motives, your actions, and especially your words. Among the jumble, God's there twining in a very different way: not to invade or overcome, but to guide and to love.