Tuesday, February 2, 2010

cultivating life

(I wrote this a while back for a different project that has not yet come to be... thought I'd share it now.)

About a year ago, I acquired a plant as a means to bring more life to my dungeon-like office. There are no windows to the outside, except in the doorframes, and even those are covered in curtains. The presence of this little plant has transformed my desk, along with a few colorful pictures, making it feel more pleasant to work around. Not long ago, I walked into my office and saw my poor plant looking like it was on the edge of death...wilted and sad. It had been about six days since I last watered it, plus a long hot weekend in the middle. The combination practically killed it!

This has happened before, but it had never been this bad. I was not sure that this time my plant would recover, especially since I am not known to have a “green thumb”. In my case, it is more brown than green! However, since I have grown fond of having this plant, I did what anyone else would do...I added some water and moved it to a little more sunlight hoping it would perk up. And then, I waited. I hoped my plant would come back to life….even just moving it off my desk toward the sun made my desk look so empty.

Each plant is different, and has varying responses to these environmental situations. No matter what though, if left on its own, the plant would not last very long. It needs someone to water and care for it, or it will die. I realized that this plant's experience is not unlike our own. We, like the plant, can usually make it for a little while just fine, not needing anything extra to help us keep going. After a while though, if we do not get the nourishment we need and some negative circumstances come along (say, like the extreme heat for the plant), we begin to wilt and fade.

We can carry and manage a lot...that is an incredible characteristic of the human spirit. But that very characteristic can also be our downfall. If we continue to try doing things in our own strength, we eventually tire, and in essence, lose the life in us. We go through the motions, but without joy. We keep going, thinking things will get better if we just work hard enough. It just never seems to be enough.

My life is a good example of this. I have long been an independent sort of person, going, going, going, until I am so tired I want to hide away for a bit and have no responsibility at all. If I am overwhelmed, I shut down…but for the most part, I feel comfortable taking the lead and getting things done. I am the person who would rather carry 10 grocery bags in one shot than make two trips or ask someone for help. Reality is that I waste more time and energy in the times I crashed from exhaustion than had I made the decision to stop and lean on something greater than myself. The momentum is lost when I become overwhelmed. Then, like the plant, I have to rebuild the strength I need to stand tall and keep living.

My plant’s story has a happy ending; I walked in the next day to see how it was faring, and amazingly, it was right back to its perky self. This plant surely was made for people like me…resilient to lack of care. I imagine that if my plant were intended to grow much bigger than it is now and I kept neglecting it, it would greatly hinder its growth. The energy spent to bring it back to life every time it lost its nutrients would take up the energy it needed to grow.

We are intended for greater things than a life of going through the motions. Jesus said in the book of John, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We need to focus on cultivating life and growth, so that in the long run, we do not look back and see that our lives mirror the wilted plant. So, take some time to drink up and rest. I will also make sure my little plant gets the care it needs! Maybe I should go buy it an aqua globe…

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

I love Jesus :)
I do the grocery bag thing too.