The Lesson of the Silly Sunflower The story starts with me in a rare mood cleaning off the back porch. This happens maybe twice a year for reasons you wouldn't care about. I had been watching for the past few months, a sunflower growing between the cracks on one of our steps. I didn't know it was a sunflower at first or this article might not have been written. It had been shooting up for the past month or two and in spite of it's location had been doing surprisingly well. But.... there always is a but in every good story, the last few days had been really hot and really dry, Today, I noticed the sunflower had partly whithered and was broken over. I couldn't help but think 'what was that silly sunflower thinking when it picked there to grow? Now some of you are thinking 'ummmmm, it's a plant, it doesn't think'. I know, but go with me on this for a while, it's necessary to make my point. I had the hose in my hand and I felt sorry for it, we give all of our sunflowers special attention and had I known this was a sunflower I would have transplanted it weeks ago. So I gave it a good dose of water and made a mental note to pull it out and try to get it to grow elsewhere. Eventually my thought process got around to thinking about how lucky that sunflower was for having me to help it and put it in a better environment. Then, almost instantly I thought' too bad God doesn't go that to us.' I knew it was a stupid thing to think or say as soon as it happened. I had been in an abusive marriage for 20 years, yes, guys, even the big toughguys like me can allow ourselves to be abused, but that's another article. I stuck with it until my then wife decided she wanted out. Her choices affected my choices, hers and mine were the wrong ones. This all happened in late December and in January of 2000 I found myself at midnight, with a truck load of 'stuff' to unload, alone, with a light snow falling standing in front of a dark cold lonely shack that I had rented from the company I worked for. I say shack, and that's the right term because it was a shack when we bought it and it was bladed down after I moved out of it. But I may be getting off track. The point is, dark, cold, lonely, wet, 50 miles from what I called 'home' and almost crying. I found the key in my pocket and tried to open the door. I say tried because like everything else the lock was broken and anyone cold walk in. I could mention at this point that this shack was about 75 feet from a sleazy apartment house in a bad neighborhood. That's another point, I was a life long country boy stuck in a big city and I hated it. After getting the door opened and the light on, I carried all of my 'stuff' in, piled it in the bedroom floor then sat on the filthy bed, and cried. I cried all night, when the sun came up I was still sitting in wet clothes crying. It was a weekday so I fumbled through my trash bags that held my clothes and found something clean and got ready for work. So let me tell you about Jacquelyn aka Jackie. Somewhere at the beginning of this horror story I met Jackie online and we struck up a relationship. I was in St Louis (I still get nauseous at the thought) and she was in Wisconsin. We spoke online a lot, then when I was here, 'on my own' we started talking on the phone. This went on for a few months, then Satan decided to make the next move. She called me one morning crying, and told me that her ex husband showed up and tried to beat her up and she was scared. Now, being a toughguy, this was hard for me to take, Us toughguys aren't used to being powerless. I couldn't do anything to help her, so I told her to get in her van and head my way. About 12 hours later she pulled into my driveway and we met for the first time in person. Satan scored. After that we spent a week or two on vacation, then after making arrangements she went back home and I was miserable again. I spent the next few months in a miserable hellish limbo, I could talk with her on the phone, but the cost of that was way more than I could afford. Did that stop me? Guess. Finally in October we made arrangements for me to go up there so sporting a new suit I hopped on an Amtrak and blew into Milwaukee. We met there, for the second time in person and had an excellent, almost enchanting week then I had to come back home. It was right after I got home that I found out that her ex husband was in fact her husband and she hadn't bothered to tell me. Now like my role model, David, I too was an adulterer and like him it made me sick. Unlike him I didn't kill her husband and marry her, we just parted ways. By now, if you haven't been nauseatingly bored you're probably wondering where I'm going with this soap opera. Bear with me a few more lines. At this point, I was depressed, tried to kill myself by taking 2 handfulls of pills and drinking a quart of whiskey only to wake up the next day late for work and a nasty taste I in my mouth. It was a God thing. My world was in a shambles, I was sick of life. Finally I just collapsed in my filthy shack on my filthy bed and Told God that I had made a mess of my life and I couldn't do this alone. I said this like He didn't already know it, which He did and I knew He knew it but didn't see the big picture. Two days later I met another girl (woman) who grew up 30 miles from where I grew up, then, in a dazzling few days we had met, and knew we liked each other. We were both Christians, we each made the profession that we had feelings for each other but God was always going to be first place. I wouldn't have had it any other way. That was ten years ago and now at last I understand. See, I didn't mention before that during this abusive period my doctor told me that if I stayed in that marriage I would be dead in a year or less, because of my current state of health. I wouldn't leave. God moved me. You might ask 'so why didn't God just set you up with the right one in the first place and avoid all the grief? This would be a valid question. The first reason is so simple yet so important I couldn't cover it completely if I wrote a million words. Choice. God allowed me to have my own free choice. Free choice is by far the second most precious thing he has given us, it would be His most precious gift had we not abused the free choice we had. Nothing else in the creation as far as we know has free choice. Our free choice affects not only us but other people, sometimes millions of other people, sometimes one person. The misery that I went through was a result of the bad choices of three people. The next reason isn't biblical, but I know it in my heart and it's twofold. He needed to show me how pathetic I am about managing my life, and also he wanted me to have a reference point. I couldn't possibly understand where I am unless I know where I was. I would never have appreciated the things I have now had I not been through that pain. So does this explain away every terrible thing that has happened to us? I would be foolish and hypocritical if I said yes. What possible good can come from a child's death? I don't know, I've been through that and now thirty years layer I understand that it was for the best. I won't go into that now, maybe it's another article for another time. So much happens every day that crushes us and kicks us to the ground and none of us can say why. I can say that everything that happens to us that's terrible is the result of someone's bad choice. Invariably some 'intellectual' will read this and reply 'but what about natural disasters? That too, is the result of a bad choice, but I've already stretched this out too long. Sitting here looking at this picture of this sunflower it occurs that I'm going to have to cut away part of it. That's something else that God sometimes has to do. I remember sitting in my garage a few years back, I was looking for something that I had had for years. I was mad because I couldn't find it and depressed. Since I moved out of that shack, my whole world had been packed away in boxes. I had over the years watched everything that had been part of my earlier life disappear bit by bit. I sat there in my garage and was acutely aware my whole life was gone. Nothing remained. It's not that I put monetary value on my stuff, it just gave me an anchor point, something to attach to and identify with. God wanted me to focus elsewhere and the only way to do that was to remove some things. In my case He removed 20 years of physical pain (getting beat on even hurts us toughguys even if we allow it to happen) and worse, emotional pain and introduced me to my now wife and that is the second best introduction I've ever had. So the point of this long narrative is this: God's primary concern right now is to get us home safely and He'll do what it takes to get us there. He never wants to hurt us, but He will remove things from our lives that will hurt us eventually. We're better off to get out of the way and Let Him do what He does best, be God. Home
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