Roses are one of my favourite flowers and one of the most popular worldwide. There are more than 30,000 varieties of roses with still more being cultivated because of their timeless beauty and sweet-smelling fragrances.

Roses, as we all know, are a symbol of love. The white rose was in the early days the most commonly used to represent love, however, in more recent times red roses are widely used to say, “I love you.”

I have roses in my garden, and I love all the different varieties, colours, shapes and sizes.

Roses are very hardy plants, it’s just the black spot fungi and the cheeky little aphids (bugs) that cause me challenges with them, but thankfully there are ways of dealing with these as well.

This week I have found myself thinking about the rose plant and the significance of its thorns. Each time I cut some of my roses to place in my vases or to give to someone, I wonder, “why put such horrible thorns on a plant that produces such beauty?” I also find it interesting that the plants with smaller stems have a lot more thorns and are harder to pick without being stabbed.

This week I decided to research the reason behind the existence of thorns that stick into my fingers and cause me pain. What I found out was what we normally refer to as thorns on the roses are technically called prickles. Thorns are a harder growth and prickles are softer, though as we all know they can still be very sharp. What I discovered was, there really is a very good reason for these thorns, they weren’t just created to annoy me, they have an awesome purpose and are very important to the rose’s wellbeing because they protect the flower from predators.

Thorns are very unpleasant to people like myself trying to grow roses for their beauty, however, they do serve a practical purpose. They guarantee the roses’ survival from the threatening humans and animals they face. They often curve downwards to prevent animals from climbing up and eating the rose. As I pondered all this, I came to really appreciate the thorns instead of being annoyed by them. If it wasn’t for these sharp little fellows, I would have a lot less beautiful roses to pick for myself and for my friends to enjoy because of their predators.

Then I began to realise this is true for us in life, those prickly, painful times we go through are really the ones that bring out the beauty in us. To have the beauty in the very delicate rose flower, the plant needs the thorns. They may look nasty and feel very uncomfortable, but they are so necessary.

Rose thorns have been recognised for a long time as a symbol of adversity as well as sacrifice.

As humans, we like to avoid both these things and we certainly like to protect our children from them. We love to try and discover the thorns and remove them, so we and our children don’t suffer pain.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” I love the truth in this statement, if we could just learn to put the true value on the thorns we come across in life, we could become the rose we have been designed to be much easier and quicker.

I think it’s a good reminder to us as parents and grandparents too if we are forever trying to pull the thorns out of our children’s and teenager’s lives, we are potentially setting them up for more pain ahead. When we see the thorns as our protection from more pain, we will face them and grow from them in a way we can’t without them.

I know within mine and Rob’s journey in life I can look back on so many hard times (thorns) that have built us into the resilient people we are today. When we don’t allow our children to walk through the thorns well, teaching them the lessons of gold in them, we are robbing them of the beauty that will prepare them to walk through life confidently.

I am not for one minute suggesting we don’t assist them, sit with them in the pain and guide them through it but I am saying we can’t afford to take the thorns away just so they avoid pain. The same is true for us. If we spend our lives avoiding the painful parts, we will never bloom into the roses we are designed to be.

Going back to the smaller bushes and remembering they often have many more thorns, I think it’s because being smaller they are so much more vulnerable. As our children are small, they need much more protection and preparation against predators, there are so many things that can be thorns to them. Each one of the thorns (hard times, struggles or trauma) you walk them through will prepare them more and equip them more for life ahead of them. Let’s look at our thorns more positively and teach those behind us to look for the roses up above the thorns, they are always there and always stunningly beautiful.

Blessings, Susanna

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