I was listening to my pastor recently. In addition to being my pastor, he’s also a big environmental activist. He’s got a self-sustaining ranch and does a lot of farming. He was speaking about farming, and relating plant growth to personal growth. He said that you’ve got to “bloom where you’re planted”, but we, as people with the ability to make choices, can make some decisions as to where we’re planted. He maintains that the key element to growing crops is the soil they’re planted in.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? If a crop is in good soil, then it’s going to grow well. If the soil isn’t full of nutrients, with enough water and direct sunlight, then the crop is going to be sub-par, or may not even grow at all.
So, what do we need to look for? What are some good circumstances for growth?
1. Good soil is broken soil. When you’re planting crops, you can’t just throw a bunch of seeds on the ground and expect them to spring up the way you want them to. You’ve got to take a shovel (or a plow) and break up the ground before it’s ready to receive the seeds.
Isn’t life just like that? It’s often times in the midst of crisis or challenges, when our circumstances are most broken, that we learn the lessons that we need to learn. What it takes for those lessons to sink in sometimes is for our perfect front to get a little beat up. It’s only when we’re broken open that we’re able to accept what the situation has to teach us.
2. The best soil is full of crap. Fertilizer is a key to growing anything. As you know, what many farmers use to fertilize the soil in which they plant is manure. Most of us don’t have a whole lot of use for manure (that’s why it’s called “waste”, right?). However, under that smelly package, it contains nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other things that are essential nutrients for growing plants.
In much the same way, our (seemingly) bad circumstances are what increase our ability to grow. While getting dumped on might not seem like a great thing at the time, it’s developing what we need to grow up big and strong. The smelly exterior hides the benefits, but you can be sure they’re there.
3. It takes time to bloom, and much of what’s happening, happens underground. The seed sprouts roots that go down before anything is ever visible above ground. There’s a lot of work that goes on outside of anyone’s view.
What you’re going through may be something that you have to go through to get stronger, so that you can deal with the tough breaks you’ve received. You might not be able to see the big picture, maybe for a long time. But, through it all, when things aren’t very encouraging, you can rest assured that there will come a time when it pays off. The growth that occurs alone, in the dark and away from everyone else, will pay off someday.
Anyway, this comparison between farming and personal growth just got me thinking a lot about how really hard it is to grow things that are worthwhile. For many folks who have tried to grow a garden and failed, you know the difficulty associated with it. You’ve got to pay a lot of attention to the plants you’re trying to nurture, or they’re not going to develop the way you want them to.
It’s the same with our lives. It’s in the tough times, the brokenness and the crap that we have to go through, and the development of positive qualities that aren’t recognized until long after the fact, that we become people who are able to achieve what we’re destined to achieve.
So, what situations have you faced in your life that would count as “growing experiences”? Did you spend a lot of time alone, developing qualities that might not otherwise have come to you? I know that feeling of brokenness what what caused me to learn some important lessons; do you feel the same? Anyone feel the exact opposite is true? Let us know in the comments…
Photo courtesy: *Susie*