Good morning! You make Wednesday mornings my favorite time of the week. I have the privilege of interacting with the best people on earth on Wednesdays. Joy! I have a SURPRISE for you at the end of this post…. You may want to sit down.
Is it just me, or is Autumn especially spectacular this year? Do you ever feel like God wrapped the trees in color just for you? Or that the sunset delivered pink and purple clouds as goodnight kisses? Or that noticing nature change is heaven’s way of getting your attention?Like the girl who flips her hair and blushes toward the boy across the room, nature is just dying for you to notice her.
And when I stop to notice, I’m never disappointed. While uprooting tomato plants, composting leaves, and chopping down giant sunflowers last weekend, nature taught me some powerful lessons. Here they are in a nut shell.
1. Nature doesn’t have to be perfect, it just grows toward the light. Growing things are scraggly and misbehaving. They often grow where they are not supposed to grow, sprout where they are not supposed to sprout, and bloom when they are not supposed to bloom. But these responsibilities belong to the Gardener, not the growing thing. The growing thing is just supposed to grow toward the light. The Gardener takes care of the rest. The Gardener plants and waters and prunes and snips. The Gardener protects and nurtures and tends to His plants, expecting His plants to be unruly and growy and wild, with a mind of their own.
Don’t set unreasonable expectations of yourself to”get it right this time.” Let the Gardener take care of it. Just submit to the process, and let God do the rest. As a recovering control freak, I know that surrendering control to God is hard. But resisting God’s gardening in your life turns out to be a lot more painful in the long run. You don’t have to be perfect, or be right, or be good, or be wise. You just have to be. Let the Gardener take control of perfecting you.
2. Nature doesn’t have to try to grow, it just stays attached. I’ve never seen an apple or strawberry or tomato try to grow. I’ve never seen something work hard or stress out or make goals to ripen. The only thing fruit does to ripen is stay attached to the branch. No striving, or trying or stressing. Just connection and protection and closeness. I’ve found that keeping connected to God throughout the day, keeps me grounded, focused and at peace. No matter what mistakes I make, or stresses that come my way, attaching myself to the Life Giving source keeps me strong, centered, and growing. Jesus used this analogy.
Staying connected to Jesus, the Source, is really all we are required to do. The work and growth that flows out of that relational attachment is the true and eternal fruit. I know that it’s the American way to WORK HARDER! I know that its the corporate way to “PRODUCE RESULTS!” I know that it is the “Christian” way to IMPROVE! I get that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I think we really miss the point when we Christians are so busy trying to become like Christ instead of being filled with Christ. Becoming like Christ seems like pressure to say the right thing, do the right thing, and be the right thing. Being filled with Christ feels like a no pressure surrender, don’t have to “be perfect” or “get this thing right” feeling. It’s just letting God lead.
3. Nature doesn’t have to hurry or slow down time, it just follows the seasons. There is no rush to grow. There is no hurry to get-er-done. There is no, “Wait, I’m not ready!” No matter what- growth, death and rebirth is bound by the laws of nature and no amount of stress, worry, control or anger will stop seasonal change. Acceptance is key. Time will have its way with us, no matter how we fight it. Time will force us through the seasons, so accepting them with hopeful expectancy is the key to happiness. What would it be like if we, like nature, could enjoy the passage of time?
The Serenity prayer says that “Hardships are the pathway to peace,” and that “Accepting this sinful world as it is, and not how I want it to be,” is key to serenity and happiness. I believe it. Acceptance of the people around me, of myself, and this world takes the pressure off to perfect it all.
This is me plus 40 years- just enjoying the passage of time. ! I know, right? Awesome! Don’t be jealous! You can print this and hang it up for inspiration.
Our constant striving to get stronger, get skinnier, get richer, get better, get more of whatever is the particular currency of the moment- sucks the joy right out of life. Reaching “Perfection” is a silent, pulsing temptation that never seems far from anything I do. But with any temptation, reaching perfection is just a facade- an imaginary ideal impossible to grasp.
I’m learning to fall in love with the REAL in each moment, instead of striving for the illusive IDEAL. I’m actively rebelling against anything that promises happiness by means of “perfecting” one’s self. And when I find myself depleted, harried and stressed, I connect back to the Source, the Vine, my Friend Jesus, because within the context of this relationship, I grow without trying.
How about you? What has Nature taught you about life, about yourself, and about God? Are you struck, like me, with out beautifully imperfect nature is? How will you stay connected to God through the next week?