I just came in from working in my little garden.
I pulled weeds, picked tomatoes, left a zucchini to grow a little more and I pondered.
I pondered a lot.
These are my lessons from my garden today.
Very early on I should have spent more time in my young garden. As the new sprouts emerged, a daily visit or two to my raised beds would have allowed me to know my plants. To know where they were growing, their unique characteristics, if they needed more water or how healthy they were or if bugs were causing destruction. I could discover disease or decide if deer netting was needed. Paying attention to them as if in a relationship, I would know when things change, when growth is taking place and when I need to intervene.
Recognizing weeds would be so much easier.
Weeds needs to be pulled often. The more we neglect them the more insidious they become. They wrap themselves around other plants, choking them of life and robbing them of producing good food. Instead of putting off a little bit every day or so, waiting had consequences. It isn't impossible, it just ends up feeling like it is. It becomes easy to give up when you can't tell the difference between a plant and a weed.
When I rip the weeds from the ground I have to use a balanced hand that is both gentle yet firm. If I pull too hard I pull out the sweet food I'm growing or worse destroy an entire plant. The weeds I have are like little vines that make their way up the stock. It seems impossible to differentiate between the plant and the weed. If I'm not firm enough the root stays in, growing back with a vengeance.
This was such a beautiful picture of why I am passionate about community. When we sit face to face with one another we begin to see those things that need attention. We notice our own weeds and growth and fruit and pests and the places that need protection. We can gently speak to each other through relationship because we know where to apply the water of the Word. We understand that some days we need to gently pull with a steady firmness so the weeds growing in the hearts of those we love can be unearthed for removal. Just like I would never leave the weeds to take over my garden, it would be unloving for me to leave a friend in the place where things have entered their heart that are squeezing the life from their lives.
This week I found this lovely quote and it resonated with me.
"Grace: having a relationship with someone's heart, not their behavior." -Bianca Olthoff
It struck a nerve because I have been saved by grace. The gentle hands of love in my life are those that have helped me recognize those things that the Word of God have seeded in my heart. Those hurts that have become grudges, those offenses that have trapped me into places I have not been called to be.
It has been the gentle but firm hand of grace and truth that has led me safely to a place of growth. A fruitful garden, planted by my Creator that can grow because of the water, because it gets weeded through the reading of His Word and the relationships of other Saints who shine a light in the those places.
Another thing my garden thrives on is the light of the sun. The garden of my heart thrives in the beauty of His Son. When I spend time communing with Him, in relationship with Him because I'm drawn by His grace and love and mercy. That's when I really grow, even when no one is watching.