As I sat on the deck one morning, I looked across the yard to a spot where I thought we had planted a dogwood tree, but the tree wasn’t visible. Thinking perhaps the tree was a victim of the recent tornado, I walked to the edge of the yard. Upon further inspection, I saw that a hearty and prolific vine had grown up and over the tree, obscuring and choking its vegetation.
After donning heavy gardening gloves, and finding clippers, I tackled the vine. What I thought would be a few snips turned into a 30-minute battle. As I engaged in vine-wrangling, I quickly discovered the offending vegetation had wrapped itself around the tree, through the limbs, and contained thorns that made it tricky to remove. Although I succeeded in removing the vine, it was not without great effort and some battle scars.
Often things in our lives entangle and envelop as thoroughly as the vine swallowed our dogwood tree. Following are some entanglements that ensnare and impede forward motion:
Sometimes, envy creeps into our lives and snakes its way around our minds and hearts before we realize how much it shapes our attitudes and perspectives. Envious people are discontent, always seeing and wanting something more, or different, than what they currently have. Envy is blind to blessings and causes people to go to great lengths to get what they want and imagine they need. Turmoil and unhappiness are the by-products of envy.
Looking for and pointing out deficiencies in others is related to low self-image and a quest for perfection. Often those who criticize do so to feel a greater sense of self-worth, reasoning, if another person is less-than, you feel better about yourself. Self-criticism is just as detrimental. Instead, focus on positive qualities and extend grace for imperfections, in yourself and others.
Do you know someone who constantly second-guesses decisions and distrusts capabilities? Often, they resort to insecurity’s cohort, criticism, to self-elevate. But in quiet moments, insecurity is their constant companion and a deterrent to courage and action.
An unwillingness to forgive those who hurt you, offend you, or let you down enslaves you. Unforgiveness damages, or ends, relationships, and creates bitterness. Harboring anger and unforgiveness toward others swallows you as thoroughly as the prolific vine obscured the small dogwood tree in our yard.
Unforgiveness is far more destructive to you than to those you refuse to forgive. The biggest damage is to your relationship with God, who instructs forgiving others as He forgives you. Forgiveness is as difficult as detangling a thorny vine, but it frees you, allowing you to focus forward rather than constantly looking back.
As I worked to remove the vine that had engulfed our young dogwood tree, I realized there was more than one source. A thick root in one spot had spawned numerous runners that spread to other areas and rooted. While cutting the original root helped, in order to kill the whole vine, I had to uproot the runners as well.
A bitter person is one who refuses to let go of anger and develops resentment for mistreatment and injustice (real or perceived). Like the vine that sent out runners, bitterness invades all areas of a person’s life, corrupting perspective and coloring actions and reactions.
In recent days, friends and family have expressed a heightened level of fear. Some couldn’t pinpoint their exact fear, but confessed fear keeps them awake at night and dogs them during the day. Fear is a normal reaction during this time of quarantine and deaths from COVID-19.
Fear serves a positive purpose in our lives, to warn of danger and prevent foolhardy decisions and actions. But there is also a negative side—fear that paralyzes, overwhelms, and prevents forward motion. Like an invader, fear wraps its tendrils around minds and hearts, reshaping thoughts and bringing panic.
Unbridled fear has no place in your life. Faith is the antidote for fear. Faith acknowledges control and protection beyond our own capabilities and entrusts today and tomorrow to God. When fear entwines your thoughts, pray, asking God to comfort and give you peace.
By doing the necessary work to uproot entanglements, you free yourself from what ensnares and sustain forward motion.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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Blessings to you!