Don’t be a cactus hugger

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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Let it go.

Did that make you think of a song? Perhaps.

Did it make you think of something you’ve been holding onto desperately? Perhaps. How about a hurt, a slight or a grudge? Perhaps.

How long will you hold it? Until it stops hurting? If that’s the case, be prepared to live with it for the rest of your life. That’s the way it works.

It’s like carrying around a cactus and being mad that it pokes you.

I grew up in West Texas. No, not Abilene. When I was growing up, I thought Abilene was in east Texas. Admittedly, the world seemed a lot bigger then. A three-hour drive might as well have been halfway across the world.

My point is that I grew up in a place where there were few trees, but a lot of sand and cactus – cactuses – cacti – a lot of those prickly, poky things.

I’ve stepped on them, brushed against them, had clothes and skin torn by them. I’ve been up close and personal with more of them than I care to remember.

I’ve never had an urge to hug one of them. And if I did, I don’t think I would want to come back and hug it again every day. I’m not a glutton for punishment.

Contrary to the saying, time doesn’t heal wounds. If you hug the cactus every day, time does nothing. If you hug the cactus every day, it is no longer the prickliness of the cactus that is wounding you; it is your choice to hug it again that is extending your pain.

It’s time to stop hugging the cactus.

In “The Forgotten Way,” Ted Dekker writes, “Forgiveness isn’t absolving another of their crime; rather, it is letting go of the offense you embraced when that crime was committed against you.”

Sometimes we didn’t initiate the cactus contact. Sometimes we got pushed into it. When you think about the wounds of your life, it is entirely possible that someone deliberately pushed you up against whatever “cactus” wounded you.

So are you going to choose to hug that cactus up close today while you remember how much that person hurt you? Are you going to allow that hurt you are embracing to keep you from trusting and praising your Father today?

Or will you embrace trust and praise?

You can’t embrace both. You have to let go of one to embrace the other.

“But,” you say, “I have two arms. I can still hug God with one arm while I hold onto the grudge. After all, what happened to me wasn’t my fault! I didn’t wound myself, you know!”

Think of the person you love most. Do you want a one-armed hug from that person while they grasp something else that is pulling them the opposite direction?

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)

Let it go. Release it. Release him. Release her.

Your life matters too much to spend it as a cactus-hugger.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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