Hugging a Cactus

The Navajo Indians thrived in a hot desert climate with piercing sun and little water.  They learned to survive in harsh elements by slicing through the thick walls of Saguaro Cacti and drinking the water and life-giving nutrients stored inside.  The Saguaro are towering cacti that have arms and loom over the desert landscape in southern New Mexico and Arizona. They are picturesque and unique, and they were a treasure to the Navajo.  

I can relate to the Saguaro because loving me is like hugging a cactus.  I’m not proud of that truth, but as an English teacher and a writer, I promise the simile is apt. Finding a way to maneuver around the barbs is not an easy task, but if one does, he or she is met with unwavering loyalty.  Similarly, the inside of that cactus is full of refreshing water, spirit-filling nutrients necessary to navigate this harsh world, so valiant efforts are met with reward. 

The reality that I’m  “prickly” never occurred to me until my husband once told me that loving me is really hard, and though the “truth bomb” was totally accurate during the season in which it was spoken, it still stung.  I desperately wanted to be fun-loving, joy filled, and happy, but I wasn’t. I could so relate to Paul’s confession in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (New International Version).  

My guarded heart had a fortress around it, a thick, protective cactus wall, and I kept people away by piercing barbs.  “Keeping it real” became my spiritual gift. Positivity and optimism annoyed me, and my husband, Micah, is definitely a “cup half full”kind of guy, which consistently caused isolation and strife between us….

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