Bruising Makes it Sweeter?
Yesterday for breakfast I ate two organically grown, fresh-from-a-local-Hanover-County-farm peaches. I know they were both from the same farm, even the same tree, yet one was much sweeter and juicier than the other. Guess which one….
Even in naturally grown produce, we try to pick the picture-perfect peach. We simply want the best. When we pick and choose from the bushel basket, we pick up a fruit, hold it up to look at it with our own informed scrutiny and check for ripeness as it yields to gently pressure. Based on what we see on the outside, we make a choice. A choice to keep it or leave it for a less-informed consumer. Somehow, I ended up with a fruit drawer of pretty peaches, but at least one was bruised and scarred by the trip home. (If I’ve ever driven you somewhere, you might understand how that could happen). Based on my breakfast choice yesterday, I discovered the blemished, bruised peach was much sweeter than the one that looked like it had just rolled off a still-life masterpiece oil painting.
What causes the blemishes and bruises? Hurt. Hits. Pressure. External and maybe even internal “pests”.
I have many acquaintances, good friends, even family who I know are “bruised fruit”. Some are recognizable as misshapen and blemished, visibly bruised, while many of the hurt, bruised ones don’t outwardly appear to be that way. I have to think that the way I have tried to hold some up to my (mis)informed scrutiny and forced them to yield to my gentle, or sometimes not-so-gentle pressure, I have caused some bruising of those I am close to. I think if we all look inside, we’ll find we’ve all been bruised. To those I have bruised, I am sorry.
Lately, I find I’m decorated in bruises and blood blemishes. Chemo and steroids have thinned my blood, and my medical teams regularly monitor my platelets, red and white blood cells, plasma, all the parts of my blood that provide healing, nourishment and protection. These days, a little bump into a wall or chair, or even carrying a bag of peaches over my arm causes these bruises and spots. The largest bruise I’m wearing right now was from doing laundry, so I’m seriously thinking laundry may be hazardous to my health!
I realize my outward, bruised appearance isn’t worth one second of my time. I tend to see these bruises and procedure scars as battle scars and badges of honor. And as difficult as it may be for some to believe this, my bruising has made me sweeter, more empathetic to those around me and strangers I interact with every day.
One of my favorite Bible passages is 2nd Corinthians 4:8-18. Let me share one of the “juiciest parts” of this letter to the Corinthian church: (NLT) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
Imagine wine like this – grapes never squeezed, floating around in a glass of water. Or banana bread baked with a whole, unripe perfect banana – unpeeled.
My hope and prayer for all of us is this – the hurts, hits, pressure and external and internal “pests” that cause us to bruise will make us sweeter on the ‘inside’ and sweeter on the outside to all those around us. And in our daily lives, as we meet and choose friends, groups to be a part of, health providers, life partners, even farmers who provide produce for us to pick through and purchase; may we ALL not pick over and leave behind the better, the sweeter ones, the “bruised fruit”.
And remember to choose to laugh, love and LIVE today – Because You Can, Sir!