There’s a rose bush that resides in the shade of my backyard.
Most of the time it’s a mess of thorns and sticks, not pretty to look at all, one step removed from a tumbleweed, really.
Until the spring, when it blooms.
And when it does, it makes up for its 11-month stint of looking like Hell, and rewards us with an explosion of awesome red joy.
But the funny thing about this rose bush, besides its infrequent way of expressing itself, is that it was once not a rose bush at all, but a rose tree. And it didn’t bloom red roses, but yellow ones.
When we moved into our house, the yellow rose tree I speak of wasn’t doing so well. It was mostly a stump of scraggly pointy woody parts, with a solitary green branch that offered up one yellow rose at a time.
Being a happy new homeowner, I took to tending the yellow rose tree right away. I trimmed off the dead parts, sprayed it with soapy water to get rid of the spiderwebs, made sure it was getting plenty of water, and sent it happy restorative thoughts.
But after a few months of heavy tending, it wasn’t improving. In fact, the rose tree developed another ailment. New branches started sprouting at its base.
A knowledgeable friend of mine informed me they were suckers – green, fruitless shoots that served only to steal the tree of its positive, rose-bearing energy. So I started the regular practice of cutting them.
But every time I snipped them off, more just kept on growing. At one point I went to the hardware store to ask if there was a tar or chemical I could put on the bottom stumps to make them stop growing. But I never found such a magical concoction.
Then, life got busy. My new homeowner zeal faded, and I stopped trimming.
I gave the struggling tree over to whatever it was that wanted to grow out of its base, and soon the woody tree stump was encased by leafy green branches. They grew up and over and around until the entire yellow rose tree was no longer visible among them.
And then one day, those suckers bloomed (see awesome red joy description above).
Growing up, I spent a lot of time wishing I was someone else. Wishing I was more social, more popular, more attractive to boys. Taller. Skinnier. Prettier. Curlier hair. More athletic. A better artist. Kinder. Deeper. A better person.
Eventually I became more comfortable in my own skin, but in adulthood there are times I get swept up in comparing myself to others. There are better writers, better mothers, better bloggers, better money-makers out there.
But as much as I try to snip away who I am in an effort to be someone else, I won’t be able to flourish until I give in and let my true self take over.
Even if that self is a red rose bush, who was once a yellow rose tree, who only blooms once a year.
We all have our purpose.