I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with poison ivy. I’m quite certain that poison ivy loves me. And I’m absolutely sure that I hate poison ivy. I know what it looks like, and I do my best to stay away from it, but for some reason it always finds me.
Like when I was working for an elderly couple from my church. I used to take care of the eleven acre property of this couple who were in their mid to late eighties. I cut their grass. I raked their leaves. I split their wood. And I even tore out the roots in their backyard with my bare hands. Little did I know that these were poison ivy roots. A few days after pulling up the roots, I looked like Donald Duck with my fingers webbed together thanks to the swelling induced by a bad case of poison ivy. This was nothing two weeks and some strong steroids couldn’t fix.
You would have thought that I had learned my lesson. Obviously not!
A couple of summers later, I was land surveying with another gentleman from my church. It was often my job to clear out the property lines, so we could get a good measurement through a straight line of sight. In New Jersey, property lines mean poison ivy habitat. Sure enough, I was back on the steroids after a bout with poison ivy on one of my land surveying jobs.
After that, I was more careful for the most part. I would pick up a spot of poison ivy here and there, but it was never as bad as before. That all changed a couple of weeks before Isaac was born when I picked up a bad case of poison ivy while I was cleaning up brush in the back of our old house. I had poison ivy blisters up and down both of my arms. Meanwhile, my wife was ready to deliver our son any day. I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be able to hold our newborn child if these blisters didn’t heal. Thankfully, Isaac’s arrival timed up perfectly with the clearing of my poison ivy.
I haven’t had poison ivy that bad since Isaac was born, but I still get it from time to time. In fact, a small case of poison ivy inspired this post. I’m currently enduring poison ivy under my eye and on my arm. Time for the calamine lotion!
Poison ivy is a weird thing. I have to wonder why God created poison ivy. I even speculate that poison ivy wouldn’t exist if Adam and Eve had stayed away from the forbidden fruit. Poison ivy is hard to remove. The roots and vines of a poison ivy plant spread out making it a challenge to completely isolate. Just like poison ivy, our words can cause plenty of pain and suffering. In the Bible, James even refers to our tongues as poison:
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3:7-9
So as I’m left here to itch, I’m also left with a reminder about my tongue. May I use my words to glorify God and uplift others today. I don’t want to be poisonous. (Pass the anti-itch cream!)
Do you have a poison ivy story? How’s your tongue?