By Carrie Dubay
When my children were little and I tucked them in at night, I used to always ask them what their thorns and roses were for the day. You know, the best and worst of their days. Back then, it would be easy to skip this step in our nightly routine. Bedtime was an exhausting process with a house full of small children. The physical demands of parenting were evident at the end of the day by the circles under my eyes and the giant mess in the sink downstairs.
But as tired as I was, it truly was such a precious time in our day, and I really miss those simple, sweet stories. I always loved hearing what lit up their faces and what made them sad. And of course, they were just so squishy and adorable in their footed pjs and their millions of stufffies surrounding them while they talked about a new friend or a boo-boo that happened on the playground.
I can't remember exactly when we stopped sharing thorns and roses before bed. If I could trade the physical exhaustion of those early days for the emotional exhaustion I find myself dealing with today, I would do it in a heartbeat. How I long for that bedtime routine I once dreaded.
The thorns and roses these days are much more complicated for all of us. We bear so many burdens for the ones we love, and yet most of it is out of our hands to find a solution. The pandemic has magnified these burdens and stressors for everyone and we are unable to fix so many of the thorns. But even if we cannot fix or change things, we can help, and it's much easier than you might think.
I recently had a good cry in the church office while I talked to Kate about real hard things that people I love so dearly are dealing with. And my own thorns too. And while there was no magic fix at the end, I realized how much it helped to verbalize the things on my mind. A weight instantly lifted from my shoulders and all it took was having someone ask me how I was doing and then just be willing to sit and listen.
I am trying to ask more and be willing to sit and listen. To my children, my husband, my parents, my friends. And yes, the thorns are often the stories people need to share, but the roses are important for sharing too! Both hearing and sharing is an amazing gift for both parties.
Have you ever asked God to lead you to someone who needs him or you? I have been amazed how quickly he provides an opportunity for that whenever I ask. We may not be meeting up with people like we once were for coffee or fellowship but we do have more opportunities than we realize to invest in the thorns and roses of ours and others lives.
I'd love to hear what you are doing to make sure you are sharing and listening these days.