by Danetta Kellar
It seems cruel to me to toss aside any little flower, any leaf, any growing thing unless it is truly withered and dead. As a result, my garden is a friend to weeds.
It is also a place where shrubs grow stunted with strange leaf diseases that have slowed their growth. Alongside the voluptuous and fragrant peonies grow the never-blooming lilacs, slumped in the hard clay, refusing to display. I keep hoping they will one day decide to defy the challenges of their environment, their diseases, and explode in color and life.
But I don’t have time these days to make them flourish. No time to amend the soil, apply the special nutrients that might strengthen them against fungus. On their own they remain, struggling to grow. They are limited, and I am too. And so we are at a stand-off.
I finally gave up last week and pulled up the Indian Hawthorne, putting it out of its misery. In its place, we planted healthy azaleas who love the partial shade. They are happy there and shout in the sunbeams, “What took you so long?”.
As I survey my garden, assessing what is truly thriving and what is not, I can clearly see another landscape, the garden of my life.
In that garden too there are weeds and well-intended plantings, things which bow low with neglect. I realize it is time to uproot those things which have ceased to thrive. The season is here to make room for new dreams and endeavors.
It is not cruel to remove that which drains life of its energy and potential. Such a task is wise and leads to joy.
I am doing spring gardening both in my own garden and in my heart. The old is going, and the new is coming. You can do it too, and here is how.
Step back and take a good look.
Take some intentional time apart from the hustle and bustle and carefully survey all that takes your time, energy, and resources. Make a list. Be creative. I use colored pencils and make a visual of all I am carrying, doing, being.
There are those things that anchor your life like a tree anchors soil; primary relationships, work, rest. They are essential. But then there are those other things. At one time in my life, I had an abundance of time commitments that were like pretty potted flowers that catch the eye and lead to impulse buying. Like those impulse flowers that ended up frying in the sun, my over-commitments withered in the heat of my burn-out.
Take time to evaluate the big picture from a healthy distance.
Bring it all before God.
Now talk to God about all you identified. Every part, even the little things that nag. Bring it all before Him, and ask the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide your thoughts and counsel you about what to keep and what to eliminate. Ask Him to help you put what’s left in order according to priority and purpose. Make a plan in this space alone with God for what changes need to be made.
I find that when I do this, there are many things that simply need to be mentally and emotionally released to God. After I yield them to Him, they suddenly shrink in size and urgency. Some disappear altogether.
Bring everything before God and make a plan with Him.
Eliminate all that is unnecessary. Be relentless and creative. Are you in a busy season? Is it really necessary to spend three hours each week grocery shopping? Use a free grocery pick-up service without guilt. If it’s available and frees your time up to be with loved ones, rejoice and do it.
At one busy season living in Africa in my early parenting years, I hired a young man to deliver my vegetables every day. The trek by foot across town every three days for fresh food defeated me and I needed help. As a result, we made new friends with his family and this bone-tired mom received much-needed assistance.
Somehow, women, in particular, have believed the lie that getting help or seeking shortcuts is not spiritual, or strong, or whatever. Let go of that attitude. Look around you at the season you are in. We know you are Wonderwoman. But even she needs to balance her conquests and rest occasionally.
What about relationships? Are you so busy mentoring and helping others that your well has run dry? Be honest about your need for rest and recharging with those who count on you. Then take care of yourself and do what’s necessary to give again when you are stronger.
Eliminate what you can, even if it is just for a while.
Don’t replant right away. Wait and watch what God will do in the space you have opened up in your life. He is the planter and the grower of good things in our lives. If there is something new that can fill that space, it will be clear and not stressful. It will be accompanied by a sense of relief, not strain. This is peace.
Wait patiently on the Lord and let Him fill your new spaces with what is needed.
There are times when my life stretches at the seams like an old black suitcase I once dragged around to the other side of the world. Full of treasures and necessities, it was about to bust wide open. I couldn’t do without a single one of those special things and kept finding more to stuff in. I didn’t mind dragging it so much because everything it contained was so important, and the trip had a foreseeable end.
But most times, I find life is better when I travel light. My journey through the seasons is much easier when my bag is small and efficient. I get less achy and tired that way, and moreover, I can happily help others with their baggage when mine is not so heavy.
Take some time out with me this week and let go. Then share your story with me!