Life comes complete with things that weigh us down and get in the way. Lately for me, those things come in the form of stones. And I have decided to repurpose those stones of hurt and pain that appear out of nowhere and are an obstacle or nuisance. Doesn’t matter their size, shape, or color. They just seem to be everywhere and in the way.
Maybe because I have spent these summer months in a flower bed, digging, transplanting, moving, watering, mulching….you get the idea. I wanted to transplant some plants that friends had given me or that came from a previous piece of property we used to own and transform a barren, empty spot in the center of my driveway into a place of beauty. So this has been my spring and summer project.
And I have encountered many stones during this process. Either my shovel would hit a hidden rock, my knee would collide with an unseen stone, or I had to move rocks to get to the roots of plants I wanted to bring home to their new location.
I found myself pitching the offending things out of the way until I began to ponder how I could re-purpose them. Instead of remaining frustrated and mad at the amount of multiplying rocks and stones where I was working and those buried in my flower bed, I began to formulate a plan for their use. Even to the point of wanting to run across a few extras for my new repurposing projects. I decided to use these rocks as stepping stones for a path in my flower bed. So now the things that were bothersome problems have become opportunities to add beauty. I love stone pathways and rock borders used in gardening so this inspired me to create some of my own beauty.
Another thing I have become aware of is this: every time I am down on my knees digging and planting and uprooting, I seem to have my own personal therapy sessions going on. There’s something about the human body connecting with earth and nature that brings these therapy sessions to life. You can call it what you wish, but I believe these times spent on bent knees allows for God to speak directly to me….without distractions of my cell phone, children (they ALWAYS find something to do when they see me get the shovel out), or the ever-present “to do” list. It’s just me, God, and the dirt.
And on bent knees, I’m listening…..
This particular day, I was struggling with some things said and done months back that just kept resurfacing. You know, the ones you THINK you have forgotten or buried deep enough in the soil of your heart that will go unnoticed. Like the rocks in my flower beds, they had come to the surface demanding attention. These offending rocks in my heart needed to go.
Needless to say, over the course of several days working in this flower bed, I became painfully aware of many rocks in various sizes that took time and patience to remove. I stood looking at the rocks I had dug up and thought of the many that were in the soil of my heart that were being removed as well. In my mind’s eye, I saw a pile of stones that had been dug up from my heart and lay at my feet, a nuisance and hindrance and painful reminder of things in my past that had caused pain.
When you look at unearthed heart-stones, you are reminded of the reasons the stones are there in the first place and of the ones who carelessly wounded you with words or actions. Honestly my first reaction to these stones was this: I wanted to pick the very same ones up and hurl them at the one who had offended me. Now that’s some repurposing of stones! (I’m kidding here….I’m not suggesting you hurt the ones who have hurt you.)
But I am suggesting it is often our first response to the pain, to retaliate, to throw them back at the offender. Or we pocket these stones or pile them high as reminders of what was done to us. I hope you will take the time to read John chapter 8 and the account of the woman who was about to be stoned for her sin. Until Jesus stepped in and stopped this public punishment by reminding all who had gathered there to watch or throw stones that if they were sinless, cast the first stone at her. One by one, I am sure you could hear the stones hit the ground at their feet.
Of course no one is sinless. We have all hurt someone if we’ve lived long enough to be in relationship with others. We’ve all said and done wrong that injured another. So who am I to take the very stones that were verbally hurled at me or the actions of others that inflicted pain upon me and turn and do the same to them?? My pain cries out for me to retaliate and hurt them back. But what is resolved then? My pain is no less. I have only lowered myself to the level they stooped to when they made the choice to hurt me.
My suggestion for repurposing those stones that may lay in a pile at your feet or the ones you’ve gathered and stuffed in your pockets as reminders of what happened….you know the ones others cast at you…..
DON’T PICK THEM UP!
IF YOU HAVE, DROP THEM! Drop the stones of hurt and pain.
EMPTY YOUR POCKETS! They will only weigh you down.
LET THEM GO!
Just as often we collect these stones over the years and do something even worse with the ones used to harm us. We build walls with them. Walls that will separate us from them. But the thing about walls is this, if you block one person out, it blocks everyone out. Walls are difficult. They separate and divide. And they are a constant in-your-face reminder of the pain inflicted on us as the stately wall gets taller and wider creating a very, very high, thick barrier between us and other people. If you are a wall-builder, you know its hard to allow anyone in your life once you’ve started building the wall. Often times we even make our walls “pretty” by planting shrubs and plants and flowers in front of them to keep us in denial that we’ve built a defensive wall around our hearts and lives to keep everyone out.
Another repurposing of those rocks and stones that we unearth in our hearts would be this….USE THEM AS STEPPING STONES! How awesome would it be if we took the things that hurt us and we allowed them to be stones under our feet that took us to our destiny instead of used for building walls that shut us in and others out?? Stepping stones that lead us to a new way of doing things, away from old harmful patterns and habits??
Or….what if we use the stones that remind us of pain inflicted upon us and like Samuel (I Samuel 7:12), we set them up as a memorial declaring “THE LORD HAS HELPED US.” A memorial using the very stones of pain as a reminder that God helped you through a difficult time and you are free because of God’s help!
One more suggestion for repurposing those stones…..they can serve as an altar to lay down the painful words, the wrong actions, the injustice committed against you and allow God to burn away what has consumed you and stolen from you. (See my blog post AT THE ALTAR, I AM ALTERED for more on this topic.) I promise you will find freedom at the altar.
So…..today, you will find a stone of memorial where God helped me, a handful of stones I have dropped and chosen not to throw in retaliation, and an altar where I let the pain be consumed and destroyed. Oh, and a path of stepping stones that leads from one end of my small flower bed to the other as a reminder of a new way of dealing with offending stones.
What about you? What will you do with your heart-stones?
REPURPOSE THEM! It’s worth the work!
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