One of my favorite desserts has always been
blackberry cobbler. I love the small town restaurants that make homemade
cobbler smothered with Blue Bell ice cream. This craving for cobbler began
the summer my family moved to the country. There was this little café in
town that was known for this dessert. It was a small slice of heaven but
it was a long walk to get there. We lived on a dirt road about two miles
outside of town.
Despite the searing heat, it is a picturesque setting with flowers decorating the sides of the road. As I walked, I began to notice the blackberry bushes sprinkled among the different plants. The berries were as big as my thumb and looked ready to burst from the juices within. I could almost taste the sweetness of biting into them. The berries seemed to grow with my impatience, as did the distance to that little café. The cobbler became a far away and unobtainable goal while these berries were within a few steps.
I was oblivious, however, to what was hidden
beneath the leaves of the bushes. I felt the scratches of thorns as I
stepped further away from the road. With each step there were more thorns
and I tried pushing the bushes away. I was now completely surrounded and
my intuition screamed for me to "get out!" But those berries were just
within my grasp. At this point I could not see where I was stepping and
those fire ants were not very forgiving. I found a tree to lean against
and brush the ants away but failed to notice the poison ivy surrounding
What a sight! My legs were bleeding; I had welts from the ant bites and would soon be covered in calamine lotion to combat the poison ivy. As I opened my hands to examine the prize, I could feel the frustration sinking in. These were not the berries I had seen from the distance. They were much smaller and still had the reddish tint from being picked too soon. The sting of bitterness replaced the sweet taste I had imagined. The growl of my stomach reminded me of the emptiness that was still there. As I stood in the middle of the road, my thoughts shifted back to the café. I had a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding for what went into that cobbler. Those berries may have looked good but that cobbler was the best! Only the sweetest berries were chosen, and it was made with patience and love. I just needed to stay on the road.
Having stood in the midst of thorn bushes, I can see how this applies to relationships as well. I had been widowed in 1998. After the death of my wife, I felt the void of being single again. I thought I could fill that emptiness with another relationship. Like the berries, relationships had become a distraction. Disappointments would scrape me with each step away from the road. The sting of a broken marriage left welts on my heart. Loneliness was like the poison ivy irritated when scratched.
As I continue on this journey, I have a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding for God's perspective on relationships. Like the cook in that little café', He only chooses what is best and it is made with patience and love. I just need to stay on the road. Once again, it is good exercise but not an easy walk. There are days when I feel too tired to continue. I still feel the heat from the road. The silence of the house screams of emptiness. Distractions continue to grow on the side of the road. Lurking within are the thorns, anthills and poison ivy. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Although you may earn a spot on the show Fear Factor, nose-diving into a bed of fire ants will not leave you fulfilled.
Thankfully, there are resources to keep us from doing this. It is through the local support groups that we realize we are not alone. Support groups provide the protective environment where we can express our feelings and learn from the experiences of other people. Together we can turn individual healing into community healing. We can also find the encouragement to keep walking. Above all, the people in our lives can help us focus on the destination rather than the detours.
As a reminder of this destination, I carry a memory of that little café. I remember sitting in the corner booth gulping down an ice-cold coke after the long walk. The waitress smiled proudly as she delivered a plate of their famous blackberry cobbler smothered in Blue Bell ice cream. It was a small piece of heaven and worth the walk to get there. I look forward to the day when I can share this experience with someone. I know that when I do, God will be in the kitchen smiling.
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