I’ve spent this week at home resting. We returned from traveling to my father-in-law’s funeral last weekend and, as has been the case with every trip we’ve taken in the last few years, I came home feeling absolutely awful.
Fun trip or devastating – it doesn’t seem to matter, it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be facing several puny recliner days once we get home from any traveling we may do.
Welcome to Debi’s maddeningly wimpy personal reality.
Much of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were pretty much lost to anything that didn’t involve a blanket and my favorite heating pad. By Wednesday, though, I was feeling well enough for my favorite little sweetheart to come over and help me get moving again.
Anytime this little sweetness comes over, I know we’re going to be spending a lot of time outside. She loves walking around my garden and exploring all the individual plants, meticulously examining each leaf and petal, busily rearranging every nugget of pine bark mulch on the ground around it.
As I’ve shared before, I see this time as a precious opportunity to cultivate gentleness in her heart through gardening. If you haven’t read it already, please check this post out. It’s important. Well, I personally think so, anyways.
I know she’s too young to really absorb it, but I love teaching Ruby all about each and every plant – what they each need, what they don’t. I want her to grow up understanding that a garden doesn’t get its beauty from caring for the entire thing in the same way.
That would be a landscape, not a garden.
We see a lot of this in Florida. Landscapers come to your house every week, they mow, edge, and prune pretty much everything. The yard may look all neat and orderly when their trucks pull away, but it’s actually not healthy at all on the inside.
Plants can only thrive so long when their natural shapes are repeatedly molded into something they weren’t meant to be.
It’s true. Look around at all the perfectly-manicured shrubs and trees that have lost their leaves down in the middle. They’re slowly dying from the inside out. This, my friends, is caused by over pruning. (Sorry for channeling my old Master Gardener days, but this is a personal pet peeve of mine.)
Growing a garden is all about nurturing.
It’s about choosing each individual plant, making it your own, loving it not only as it is, but for what it’s naturally meant to become. And it’s also about doing what’s best for it – even if that means whacking it down to the ground once a year. This is how each plant gets what it needs.
This is what makes each plant beautiful, and this is also what collectively gives a garden its unique blend of lovely.
Notice any parallels here? This is exactly how God loves us.
While Ruby and I were out there the other day, though, I couldn’t help but notice that my Aztec grass was looking really tired. As I was telling her all about how this plant needs its yearly “haircut”, I could feel my own heart sinking with a weary thud.
I have a lot of Aztec grass. It’s one of my favorite plants and it basically forms a serpentine backbone throughout my entire garden. It’s a huge job every year to prune all this back, but I’ve always found it to be well worth the effort because its bright contrast actually highlights every plant around it.
The problem is that the enormity of this chore nags me each and every year.
Keep in mind that I planted all of this long before I ever met my friend, Lupus. I was strong and healthy back then.
Now I face this yearly chore while battling this infuriatingly persistent state of weariness. Just the thought of tackling all this work makes me feel like I’m staring straight up the slick, rocky side of a mountain. It makes me tired and discouraged all over again.
Ruby then started tugging at my hand, leading me back into the house to play. At that moment, I was really glad for the distraction from my dark thoughts.
She chose stickers as our next activity. And she chose to do it her way, thoughtfully placing each sticker on my face, looking straight into my eyes with each and every one. The connection between us at that moment was amazing – every, single sticker was placed with love and purpose.
Again … I’m feeling a strong God parallel here.
But here’s the thing – what all this rambling has been about today.
It’s now Friday afternoon and I am extremely stiff and sore, but incredibly encouraged.
Thursday was spent not with a wearied dread over my annual Aztec chore, but with me out there slowly, steadily conquering it.
As a result, I obviously woke up this morning in so much pain that I couldn’t wait to get out of bed. I fixed my coffee, limped out onto the back porch, and plopped down into my chair – with my hands, wrists, and hips seriously screaming their rebuke at me the whole time.
As I sat there waking up, though, I realized something: In the last few years, because of my joints and weariness, this chore has only been accomplished with several days of very painful work.
This year I actually had the strength to get it all done in one. And, yes … it does hurt to move today, but I am okay and my heart has been seriously, seriously lifted by this progress.
So, please, celebrate with me.
You know, God never stops showing me in everyday ways how very much he cares for me. Anytime things seem overwhelmingly out of control, He’s right there either pushing me forward in faith, or stopping me cold in His love.
And he’s looking me straight in the eye with the love of a Father who’s meticulously giving me exactly what I need (whether pretty or painful) to become the very unique form of beautiful that He created me to be. My prayer is that you can see this in your own stories as well, my friends.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.” (Isaiah 51:3)