Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She had a dad who worked in the yard, he loved planting flowers and doing landscaping. Her mom grew pretty African violets and other houseplants. The girl admired them and helped take care of them, but was always upset and annoyed when she watered them and it overflowed onto the table.
The little girl played and worked and learned. She loved Jesus, she learned to swim, play the piano, speak Spanish, and many other things. The girl had many good qualities, but a green thumb definitely was not one of them. She tried a few plants over the years – but she didn’t water the Christmas cactus enough, and even the air fern bit the dust for some reason. Finally she gave up – no more houseplants! She went to college, got married, had four beautiful children and had a wonderful life – well, most of the time, anyway.
Sometimes she felt overwhelmed with all of the chores, demands, and responsibilities she had each day. There was so much to do – and so little time! She started to feel used – just someone to cook, clean, and keep the fridge stocked with Pepsi. Everyone wanted something from her. She tried so hard to keep up, and she wanted everyone to be happy with her work. She did a great job – but mistakes do happen and things don’t always go as planned. At times the house looked like a tornado had blown through. She felt sick when the checking account got overdrawn because she didn’t keep track of things well enough. She cringed when her husband’s favorite shirt was in the laundry when he wanted it. The kids didn’t act the way she thought they should – but she didn’t know what to do about it. She put too much pressure on herself and the strain began to show. She cried for no reason, and life just seemed way too hard. Oh, it wasn’t obvious to everyone who saw her. It looked like she was doing fine. As she looked around at other women, she felt like they all had it together and she was just playing house.
Pride kept her from asking for help, busyness kept her from taking care of her physical and emotional needs, exhaustion kept her from accomplishing all that she wanted to do…and slowly the woman felt as if she were wilting. She felt so bad that she even wanted to die quite often. Thankfully, the woman got help. She told her husband how she felt, she talked to a counselor for a few months, she got on medication which helped to even out her huge mood swings. She learned to deal with stress in better ways instead of letting it completely destroy her. She changed how she felt about failure and mistakes. She learned to forgive. The woman became much more healthy…she felt pretty good. She enjoyed life again, she liked herself more, and she even started to accomplish some of her goals and desires.
As the woman drove through town in the Spring – she marveled at all of the beautiful trees, plants, and flowers that she saw in so many yards. She studied the intricate design of the tulips and the perfect symmetry of a leaf. Her emotions were more stable and she felt good. She felt so good that she began to entertain the thought of buying…a houseplant. One day she saw the cutest little mini roses at WalMart…so tiny and perfect! She resisted the urge to buy them the first time, but after giving it careful thought she decided to try. She loved them! She stopped to smell them and admire them often as she went about her work. At first she took good care of them. She watered them and cut off the old blooms…they looked so good that she decided to get a fuschia a little later that Spring. It was so beautiful with its many blossoms hanging from the pot. She hung them in her dining room, watered them and took good care of them. Well, pretty good care of them, anyway. She got a little busy and didn’t water them as often as she should. She knew she should add plant food, but just didn’t get around to it. More and more leaves and blossoms dropped off…the mini rose needed more sun but she didn’t take the time to put it outside. Later in the summer they went on a camping trip for almost two weeks and she left the poor plants alone, parched and wilting. They weren’t quite dead when she got home, but they were close to it. They were never quite the same after that…
She tried to keep taking care of them, but it wasn’t as much fun now that the blooms were gone. She got busy with other things…many things…too many things…and she felt overwhelmed once again. As she got more busy the housework started to go. Her husband joked about never having a clean glass in the cupboard. She couldn’t plan meals – her poor children cried when they heard they were having bologna sandwiches again. The kids sensed her restlessness and got even more out of control. Everyone became tense and crabby and the woman knew it was all her fault so she felt even worse – and went to eat some ice cream and play gravity tiles on the computer. When she took a break to go get some Pepsi, she noticed her mini roses and her fuschia sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen.
As the woman looked at her two dead plants – she wondered if that was all she was destined for – death (the woman tended to be a little melodramatic). This time she didn’t dwell on those thoughts – instead, she reminded herself that death was not her only option. Sure, these plants were beyond hope, but as long as there was life in her there could be growth. Her life was rooted in Jesus. This did not make life easy, but it did give a reason for hope. She would not give up. She would do what she needed to do to get growing again! If things fell apart again somewhere down the road – she would start over and keep growing! She might even buy another houseplant to symbolize her resolve – well, maybe next year.
Yes, this is my story. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn how to grow wonderful houseplants, but I do know that I can learn to grow personally in many different areas of my life. I challenge each of you to set some goal in an area of life where you want to grow…evaluate how you’re doing in a few months and be encouraged as you see growth happening. Well, don’t just sit there…get growing!
© Robyn Mulder 2003, therobynsnest.org