apexanthologies

The Garden And The Thorn Bush

I came [into work], like I do every other Saturday in September, I can tell you the date, they literally just handed me a letter— didn’t explain it. It literally just said, this is what’s happening, you can’t do anything about it. Sorry about your luck.” The loss of income left Jon and Becky at odds. Through prayer, they decided the best choice for the family would be for Jon to become a stay-at-home dad.

We all take things from our childhood and carry them with us into adulthood. Sometimes they are literal things like a charm bracelet, or a warm quilt grandma made that we always sleep with. Most things we carry are figurative. Emotional. We carry the happiness and love our friends and family bestowed upon us and, hopefully, spread it to others as we grow older. We carry the ambition and determination from our parents to never give up,  to push through the hard times with full faith in the great times right around the corner. Sometimes, we carry the sadness from our childhood into adulthood. Maybe the sadness is a memory from the first funeral we attended, or loneliness from the first time someone told us they didn’t want be our friend. Or maybe it’s unexplained anger that took root inside of us and began growing a thorn bush, pricking a part of our hearts every time we were lied to. Every time we got into a screaming match with our parents or siblings over something that didn’t seem so important once the yelling was done.

If we aren’t carefully examining what’s growing inside of us, we may become numb and ignore what’s being buried inside of us.

apexanthologiesIntroducing the Campanas– Jon and his wife, Becky, and their two sons Jay and Barrett. Becky grew up in a two-parent household where yelling was seldom if ever, and ambition to fight through the hard times were evident. Jon was raised by a single mother where love shined through, yet yelling matches weren’t uncommon. Through God’s grace and mercy, Becky and Jon met, fell in love, and began their life’s journey as husband and wife. They brought what was rooted inside of them and planted a beautiful garden they would tend to as their own and grow a family. Like every couple, they have their ups and downs, “When there was an argument, it was like 0 to 60, but it was mainly once every four months. So it wasn’t like, ‘this is a big issue cause it’s not really occurring,’”  Becky says.

 

A few years go by in their marriage, and they welcomed their first child, Jay, and Barrett followed two years later. Life seemed to be working according to Becky and Jon’s plans, though all the while, thorns were pricking at Jon’s heart. ”I will lead him to the desert and speak tenderly to him there.”–Hosea 2:14b.|

I came [into work], like I do every other Saturday in September, I can tell you the date, they literally just handed me a letter— didn’t explain it. It literally just said, this is what’s happening, you can’t do anything about it. Sorry about your luck.” The loss of income left Jon and Becky at odds. Through prayer, they decided the best choice for the family would be for Jon to become a stay-at-home dad.

Jon’s desert sand became an overload of children’s toys. The heat from the sun came in the form of having to become a stay-at-home dad. “Counteracting that cost [of] staying at home and saving that money would be better than paying for daycare. So that decision [to stay home] was not mine. I initially saw this stay at home thing as a punishment, like I [didn’t] know what I had done wrong.” Jon started the job search and applied to over 60 jobs in a six-month period, interviewed for some, but never heard back. “That caused some frustration too, like, I don’t wanna be a stay at home dad forever. I don’t think I’m called for that.” Jons’ anger had come to a head. With the desert becoming dryer and the suns’ rays hotter, the thorn bush had overtaken the garden he and Becky so carefully planted. Becky approached Jon about his anger, “I’m like, we can’t continue to live our lives like this. We can’t continue in our marriage like this.” The next day, they reached out to the Care Team at Apex and Jon sought out discipleship with his peer. “In the end, God said, ‘You’re gonna stay where you are right now’ and I began to see that there was a reason to being let go of my job, for God to bring this to attention. God softened my heart to deal with this. It was humbling for me to say, ‘Yeah, I have an issue with anger and I’m going to deal with this once and for all’.”

apexanthologiesTrusting ourselves with our own plans is like running through the desert with water in the palms of our hands. No matter how tightly we clench onto that water, the water will drain. When the water drains, all we were trying to ignore will be staring us in the face, saying, ‘Here I am, what are you gonna do about it?’ “It was the Lord’s providence. He just brought him to a point where he was on his knees,” Becky says.

“I just need to make sure that righteousness is inside, and the pursuit of holiness is inside, and not this pent-up anger,” Jon says, “We need to work on what’s inside of us, not our surroundings. Cause traffic is gonna be horrible, all these things can go wrong outside. But we can examine what we look like on the inside. [I got to] make sure I’m constantly examining myself on the daily. It took three months of just praying and being a stay at home dad to be like, ‘okay, I think I can do this. I can handle this.’ It took a while for me to adjust to that life of diapers all day and crying. God definitely revealed some things about my character through that experience.”

The Campanas turned to the Lord and began weeding out the thorn bush. They leaned on God’s guidance. Anger in itself is not a sin, it’s what you do with it that can make it sinful. In James 4, it says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”

“That’s a reminder for me, where are your passions? Are they directed in the right? Is it to make myself more comfortable? Are my passions ultimately for the furthering of the kingdom?” Jon and Becky tend to their garden every day, nurturing it with the values they want to instill in their family culture, values of respect, active listening, and reconciliation.

We may not understand the means in which we go through to get to the unforeseen end. Sometimes we must unwillingly walk through the desert, but one thing is for sure– God is a good, good Father. He will always be walking beside us.

A Reflection- What are you ignoring in your life that could be giving way to numbness of the thorn bush growing deep inside? Take a few minutes and pray for God to expose these things to you. 

Author- Aly Spence

Photographer- Brooklyn Kimberlin

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