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Stuck in the Mangroves

Updated: Jan 29


Mangroves are trees that grow in groups along the saltwater coast and create a very dense population of roots.  It’s difficult to walk through an entangled mangrove, but if you’ve ever done it, you know to walk on top of the roots, because the wet ground underneath is often times knee high mud and you will get “stuck in the muck.”

How often do we find ourselves stuck and lost in a vast jungle of murky roots and muddy foundations.  Surrounded by never ending bills to pay, maxed out credit cards, a “to do” list that continues to grow three fold for every item checked off; an unexpected sickness or the sudden death of a loved one; the uncertainties of every day life, and the weight of burdens that bury our souls, as all of these things close in on us.  We trick ourselves into believing that we’re just, “stuck in a rut,” and that someday the problems will just magically disappear or the feelings will simply fade away.

I once accidentally drove my boat onto a mud flat in the bay near some mangroves.  I had to get out of the boat and push, but there was one problem, I was in waist-high mud, and when I pushed, the boat would not budge, but sank me deeper into the mud beyond my chest.  The sun was beginning to set, which spun me into a bit of a panic, because there were women and small children on the boat.  As I literally inched the boat backwards, I was getting tired, I was running out of energy, and I was getting nervous.  I was also running out of time, and I was truly “stuck”.

I could have sat in the boat and waited for the tide to finish going down and then back up again until the boat floated on it’s own.  It  would have taken roughly over 14 hours, which was not an option in South Florida with the onset of mosquitos and biting gnats after dark.  So I shifted the people in the boat from front to back and back to front while I pushed, so that the boat slowly “walked” itself free enough to be pushed into deeper water.  But it took extraordinary effort to get “un-stuck”, and to be free of the muck; I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

When it comes to the things in this life that have us bound in places we do not want to be, we can not just sit and wait for the tide to rise; we have to take action.  We have to figure out a way through the mangroves of life, we have to get into the muck while we can and fight; even when we are tired,  anxious, and exhausted, before the darkness of it all closes in.  Before the house is lost in foreclosure, before the credit cards force us into bankruptcy, before the relationship deteriorates, and before the to-do lists of life become unmanageable or even unattainable. 

We have to get out of the boat and PUSH!   

But we do not have to push alone.  We can call on friends, family, and on each other to help “rock the boat” while we push free of the infamous “tangled webs we weave,” and the harsh realities of this life.  This is what happens at Hope4Life support groups; men lean on men, women embrace women, and together they pull one another out of the entanglements and the unforgiving muck.

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