Friday, March 1, 2019

Even the dead ends

I dusted off my seed starter trays about four weeks ago. I planted a handful of different flower and vegetable seeds and placed them in my new toy, a small, plastic greenhouse I purchased off of Amazon, and situated in front of my bedroom window. At first, it was almost as if the seedlings leapt from beneath the soil’s surface, as desperate as I to grow and rid themselves of the darkness they were experiencing below. They shot up toward the heat of the sun, stretching out for the light. Initially, the visual change I witnessed in my seedlings was invigorating and I felt elated. My greenhouse was working! After years of trial and error with starting seeds indoors, I was finally figuring it out. Over the past few weeks, the zinnias, nasturtiums, cosmos, tomatoes, peppers and sweet peas in my master bedroom have become my little obsession. I check those plant babies nearly as often as I do my own offspring. I am so desperate to see progress and to watch them flourish. At first, they all looked the same - tiny stems with two little leaves. Then, new leaves appeared, the plants grew taller, and they began to differentiate. The days when they grow in huge spurts are so rewarding and I feel like a plant magician. But rarely do these visible “big growth” days occur consecutively. The growth happens in fits and starts. Growth, followed by rest and absorption, and, I imagine, unnoteworthy root expansion beneath the surface. As their “plant mama,” I do my best to meet their needs. Some days, it’s easier to figure out exactly what those needs are than others. When the surface of the dirt begins to appear dry, when its color turns from rich, dark chocolate to milk, I know it’s water that the seedlings need. When a seedling soars vertically but grows so thin and “leggy” that it can’t even support the weight of its own leaves, I know it is light that it’s lacking. When a plant matures rapidly and then suddenly stops cold, a closer look usually reveals the need for a larger growing vessel, the tiny plastic tray capsule it began in now appearing cartoonish and ridiculous in comparison to the size of the plant. Until I give the roots more space to spread and expand, growth stalls. My sweet peas have grown so tall, they no longer fit in my greenhouse and I’ve had to relocate them to the desk in my office, where the ceiling is their only height limitation. They are currently winding their way up classy wooden kabob sticks that have been taped together because one on it’s own was not tall enough for the speed of their vertical pursuits. I’m anxious to get them outside but the still-present piles of snow in our yard serve as a visual reminder that perhaps such a move would be jumping the gun. Though the plants might appear ready for the great outdoors, the conditions of the outdoors might be still be too much for them. They still have a lot of maturing yet to do. I can relate a lot to my plant babies. Are you catching the many metaphors to life that are hidden in my words? It’s no surprise to me that Jesus often used plants as illustrations throughout scripture. Their growth parallels our own growth process as humans so perfectly. As one who is in hot pursuit of growth and healing in my own life, at times it is so frustrating to me how non-linear the process can be. Logic informs me that the best possible route from point A to point B is a straight line, direct and lacking in all types of funny business. Everything works together toward a singular purpose, nothing is wasted. Yet, if I were to map my own growth process, it is so far from straight and direct. My path looks more like the loopy zig-zag of a lost person, turning around in random driveways, trying to reach their destination (which they aren’t even fully certain of in the first place), without directions. Initially, I went to therapy to address “X” and here I find myself having to face down “T,” “U,” “V” and “W” before we can even begin to touch on “X.” It’s super annoying. For both my husband and I. I started to do this individual work because it was evident we wouldn’t make the progress in our couple’s work until I took care of a few of my own issues. As it turns out, “X,” wasn’t my only issue. It’s hard to be patient as we work through other struggles that feel like “detours,” seemingly unrelated to our original goal. Meanwhile, I have some big plans, plans that I feel were laid directly on my heart by God. Yet I’m running into all sorts of barricades. Why would He call me to something only to require me to weave my way through a maze of obstacles? At times I worry, did I mishear him, perhaps? Am I practicing avoidance? But if I were, wouldn’t I have a clear idea of what exactly it is that I’m avoiding? On other days, I feel motivated and ready. I want to get started! Shouldn’t I get started? I feel a lot like those sweet peas on my desk. I’m standing taller! I’ve made so much progress! Isn’t it time? But then I wonder, how are my roots? Are they strong enough to hold me up to withstand the gales of wind that will certainly blow my way? And is it the right season? Technically, it’s still winter. Perhaps I need to hold out for spring. Growth can be a lot like walking into a thick fog. We can’t exactly see what’s on the other side, but we believe that the heat of the sun is back there somewhere, burning off the clouds. We know the general direction we should be headed, but until we reach the other side of the fog, we just have to continue to put one foot in front of the other. We can make lists and do all the things and yet, the depth of the fog remains. We must march our way through its entirety. Fruit comes at harvest. It cannot be rushed. As a gardener, I’m learning that I can’t force my plants to do anything. I cannot speed their growth. I can only provide them with the things I know they need - fertilizer, water, and on sunny days, a prime spot in my south-facing bedroom window. As much as I want to hurry their maturation and see them blossom into their full potential at a much more rapid pace, I am at the mercy of their own process. I just have to keep showing up with the things I know will keep them healthy and then surrender and wait. I know I write a lot about growth. It will likely be my forever-message…until God gives me a new one. Until then, be encouraged. Slow forward progress is better than no progress. And even when it feels pointless, a walk down and back on a dead end street is good too. The path may seem indirect but we are building our roots, being prepared, receiving nourishment, practicing obedience. The Master Gardener has a master plan. And praise Jesus that I don’t have to be the one to decide when the time for harvest is right. For now, I need to keep showing up, enjoy all that is happening in the garden, and surrender my vision for His.

No comments:

Post a Comment

posted by kelsie