True confessions: I do have a pet rock.
Fellow baby boomers might remember the Pet Rock craze from the mid 1970‘s. A marketing genius (from California – where else?) grew tired of hearing friends complain about their pets and decided to create the perfect pet: the “Pet Rock.” He bought stones for a penny at the local building supply store, wrote an instruction manual for the care of the “pet” and created a cardboard carrying case, complete with air holes and breathing straw. The Pet Rocks sold for $3.95 each. Over 1.5 million of them! That fad lasted about six months.
But that’s not the kind of pet rock I have. Mine came from the deserts of Saudi Arabia. It’s actually known as a “sand rose.” These “roses” are created as a result of a lightening strike to the sand. Each one is unique. And uniquely beautiful. My sand rose sat on a table in my parent’s home for years. It was a remembrance from a consulting trip my dad took to the Middle East back in the 1980‘s.
Finally, a few years ago, I asked my dad about it’s origin. That’s when I learned about the genesis of the sand rose. And when I look at it now, I have a whole new perspective. Over the last few years, I’ve been in my own desert of sorts. It’s been a time of great loss – the death of three loved ones as well as the significant transition that accompanies the “empty nest” as my only child left for college. Many of my roles came to a screeching halt almost concurrently.
The sand rose now reminds me of some of the lessons I’ve learned in “the desert:”
-Understanding how the sand rose was formed dramatically increased my appreciation of it. Isn’t that true about people, too? When we take the time to understand the formational events in a person’s life, we can see them with compassion instead of frustration or judgment.
-We all go through times in the desert. It’s just part of life. And if you know someone whom you consider to have a charmed life with no suffering, just wait. Their hard times will come eventually, too.
-Time in the desert does not have to be wasted. We may go for long seasons when we feel dry, or that everything we care about seems to be gone. But beauty really can come from the hard or lonely times, just like a sand rose can emerge from the desert. God wastes NOTHING. Even our losses, our heartbreaks, our pain. Be expectant.
-The desert times don’t last forever. We have a choice on how we react to the “lightening strikes” in our lives. We may suffer a great deal of pain due to our own mistakes or because of someone else’s choices. It’s so easy to say “why me” and grow bitter. But there’s great truth to the old adage that bitterness destroys the vessel that contains it.
Choosing to ask God what He wants you to learn from a desert season can totally reframe your experience.Are you going through a difficult season right now? There can be purpose in the pain, and you, too, can emerge with a greater depth of character and with more compassion for others who are suffering. It’s not easy. But it’s possible. Remember the sand rose!