G is for…

A few Sundays ago I was talking to our pastor in between services. He mentioned they have a decorative arrow hanging in their home, and I (being the smarty pants that I am- I get it from my daddy) asked him if it was pointing up, since he is a pastor and all. He laughed, and said “sometimes things don’t have an actual hidden meaning. They just are what they are.” He’s probably right, but thanks to a truly wonderful high school teacher who poured her love of literature into her students, I have a habit of seeing symbolism in pretty much everything. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you may have noticed I can find a metaphor for life in a trash can (literally! See here for that epiphany). This is no exception…

G is for Gardening…
I recently received a beautiful azalea plant from a friend and have thoroughly enjoyed having a splash of color on my table. I do NOT have a green thumb, just ask my husband. He’s been the disposal person for all the flora and fauna I have massacred over the years. I wanted this plant to survive though, so I made an effort to remember to water it. “Not too much though,” my husband would nervously advise as I had the faucet on full blast. A month went by and my pretty plant continued to thrive. I would admire it every time I passed it, the boys would even comment on its bright color, and my husband was impressed it had survived me so far. And then slowly, it started to turn. One blossom, then another turned yellow and brittle. Well dang it. I killed another one, I thought to myself. On the off chance this was salvageable, I actually looked up how to take care of the plant (a sad first for me- we may have figured out my black thumb problem), and discovered all my little plant needed was some pruning. Armed with this knowledge, I immediately did…nothing. I’ll do it tomorrow, I said. Not right now, it’ll be too messy, and I’m busy. Maybe I’ll do it wrong and ruin it, best to wait until I have a better idea how to do it… I came up with a lot of excuses not to deal with my once pretty thing. Until a friend came over and casually commented on its sad state. “Nothing new will grow until you cut off the dead parts,” she said, gently touching the dry, faded blooms. After she left, I stared at my still alive but no longer thriving plant. Her words had struck a deeper chord than proper gardening methods.


G is for Grace…
Grace. It’s a lovely word, and one I try to think of regularly. Grace is a beautiful, blessed, undeserved thing, but sometimes I think I apply it wrong.
“I didn’t feel like making the effort to talk to that person today…I just need to give myself grace, I can’t always talk to everyone.”
“I chose to spend my time on my phone instead of cooking dinner so now we are eating junk…I just need to give myself grace, I can’t be perfect all of the time.”
While it’s valid that I am not a perfect person, and I can’t beat myself up about all the things, it’s also not alright for me to grace myself into complaisance. Grace is not an excuse to do or say whatever I want. The goal is not to live there in your imperfection without doing anything to try to be a better person, but to be willing to look at the parts of you that need change. Pruning if you will. Let’s be honest, that whole concept sucks. Pruning is messy, you end up with leaves and petals everywhere. It requires thought, and work, and after the pruning is done you are left with a bare looking creation that you hope to heaven will start to bloom again. Yet…there’s something oddly nice about seeing a freshly pruned tree or flower bush. It’s the potential for how beautiful and vibrant it will be as a result of your willingness to do that hard, messy work.


G is for Growth…
Until we trim back those parts of us that aren’t producing anything, nothing beautiful can grow. This last year, I have made it a goal of mine not to pursue relationship with people out of anything other than an organic, pure desire to be their friend. As opposed to being led by the “prestige” of knowing and (more coveted) being known by the “right” people. That way of thinking had caused me to be inauthentic, and to harbor feelings of resentment, jealousy and inadequacy, which were draining. Fear of being left behind/left out or considered “less than,” has caused me anxiety most of my life, but it was time for that to finally go! Making it a practice to ask myself in the moment what my motive was, or my end goal, changed the way I was pursuing people. Letting go of that was incredibly hard for several reasons, but it was also extremely gratifying. I gained the freedom to see people more clearly, rather than with video game-esque points bars above their heads.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples.” John 15:8

To be a better person, to “bear fruit,” is the goal of the pruning right? Sometimes when I really allow myself to look at the areas I need to work on, I get overwhelmed real fast. So much imperfection, so little time. That’s where Grace (in the correct sense) comes into play though, thank goodness! I have an idea of the kind of little old lady I want to be someday: Godly, kind, gracious, forgiving, honest, loving, wise. Truth be told I want to be that lady now! But one does not become all of those things with a can do attitude and some motivation. It requires a whole lot more maturity and wisdom than I currently possess. So, for now, my goal is just to not be so comfortable in Grace that I forget to Grow, and hopefully someday all that pruning will result in something beautiful ❤️

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