Spring sunshine and warm breezes energize me. Some days I feel like a tornado whipping around, cleaning and organizing inside and out. My exercise regimen also jump-starts every spring, just like daffodil shoots. But invariably, a remnant of winter blasts through the farm and stifles both my growth and my ambitious projects.
Have you ever felt the winds shifting your spirit? I’m at my most energetic with warm breezes and at my most sluggish when cold winds whistle across the fields. In April, I fluctuate between moments full of life and energy and moments when something or someone dampens my spirit. I never want to be a “fair-weather friend.” But on dark days, I can come close.
As I plan my spring cleaning and flower bed cleanup, I also try to clear the rubbish from my mental beds. Easier said than done!
I have noted my garden’s progress in my Mary Engelbreit’s Gardner’s Journal for ten years. I enjoy seeing how my gardens have weathered the storms, how my pruning paid off, and my watering and fertilizing energized their growth.
I wonder if I can say the same for myself.
You see, I have journaled for decades, writing words never intended for anyone else’s eyes. I’m confident they would make me blush if anyone else ever read them. Yet I find it beneficial to look back (even in the darkest of times) to see the storms I have survived. Storms of disappointment, betrayal, and death were all followed by dawning realizations that somehow, I survived.
Thanks to parents who were committed Christians, the seeds of my faith were planted early – and in fertile ground. But the pruning in my life has at times seemed unbearable. Later, I realized that God’s pruning helped me grow in ways I would never have imagined.
Like dominoes falling neatly in a row, a son’s medical crisis led me to a career in education. That, in turn, led me onto a path where I could educate parents about their role as their children’s most significant teachers. One family’s crisis led me to work with hospice in the What Color Is Your Hurt? A trauma intervention program. And all these steps prepared me for my next role as a caregiver. During those years, the wisdom and experience I harvested prepared me to share all of this with you, my reader.
I shouldn’t be surprised that I get pruned as rigorously as my grapevines in the garden. Jesus told his followers, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2, NIV) When God prunes us, our growth is astounding for His kingdom. And when we stay in the Word, the prophet Isaiah tells us, we will be “like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11b, NIV)
The watering and fertilizing come through the study of God’s Word and the fellowship with other Christians – and I have found what Isaiah knew: those waters never fail. Finding a church community and a pastor who digs into the Word of God to feed his flock nurtures our growth in Christ.
I hope you will take a few minutes today and find a notebook to jot down your thoughts. Perhaps you might take a stroll down your memory lane and remember the storms you have weathered. Celebrate the growth you experienced throughout those ordeals. We may have survived them alone, but sharing our insights with friends will encourage their growth, too, no matter the season.