Having grown up in a moderately-sized city just outside of Seattle, I’m not really familiar with gardening. As a kid, I’d occasionally help my mom plant flower beds, and I remember one year when my siblings and I tried planting pumpkins (which my mom unfortunately mistook for weeds). That’s about the extent of my farming experience.
This year, however, we’re living in the basement apartment of a family with a huge garden area. They offered to give us a small part to plant whatever we wanted, but I asked if they’d like to instead work together on the whole thing. This was mostly about trying to make the most of each of our contributions, but was also partially selfish, because while I was intrigued by the idea of growing my own food, I had no idea how to do it.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my first time planting a garden happened at the same time as a personal planting season.
When we moved to our current apartment, it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. My husband was unceremoniously let go of his dream job and we had to leave that town to find better opportunities. At the time he was let go, we’d been planning to buy a house and try for a second child.
It hurt. The plans we’d been working on all came crashing down, and we were left with heartache and a precarious financial situation.
All of a sudden, where there were flowering plants, so to speak, there was just dirt. We were back to square one in a lot of ways.
Planting seeds for our new life has been hard. It’s painstakingly slow and laborious.
In slowly working our way back to where we’d like to be, I realized there are a lot of lessons to learn from gardening that you can apply when you’re in your own planting season.
Stop watching your plants grow.
Growing plants from a seed takes a long time. We planted a few seeds about a month ago, and they’re just now starting to really look like plants. If I were to keep checking them every hour (or even every day), it would have seemed to take a lot longer.
Have you ever heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils”? That’s even more true when you’re in the planting season.
Stop checking to see if your efforts are making a difference. Sometimes you’re just going to have to plug away without seeing results, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not making progress. Trust that God is in control of things, do what you can, and let Him take care of the rest.
“If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived.” –Jeffrey R Holland
Pull any weeds that are taking over your garden.
When you’re taking care of a garden, it’s important to weed regularly. Otherwise, you’ll have unintentional plants stealing the resources from the plants you’re working to grow.
Your personal planting season is very similar. You need to be sure there aren’t extraneous things stealing your time, effort, and attention.
What does a weed look like for you? Are you spending your time and energy where it matters, or is there something else that’s sucking it away. Are you idling away time on social media? Watching TV?
Even healthy habits can be draining when taken to the extreme. Are you working too much, exercising excessively?
Your time is important, and you have a limited amount of it. Prioritize the time you’re given to reflect what’s most important to you.
Water and feed your plants regularly.
Plants don’t grow without a little help. They need regular nourishment and encouragement or they’ll wither away and die.
Similarly, if you want your efforts to amount to something, you need to keep feeding your dreams and goals and desires. Do little things daily to bring you closer to your goals.
Are you working toward weight loss? Incorporate more exercise into your day naturally, like parking further away from a store or taking the stairs.
Trying to build a business? Do little things every day to work toward growth. Plan those Facebook posts. Make some cold calls.
Whatever your goal is, small efforts lead to big results.
Nourish the soil the plants are growing in.
Plants have a hard time growing in hostile soil.
Be kind to yourself, and be sure to take care of yourself. In slow or frustrating seasons, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our problems and stop doing positive things for ourselves. Be sure to keep healthy by exercising when and how you can and eating well.
Feed your soul with the word of God. Be sure to read your scriptures regularly, especially during the trial of a planting season. God is still speaking and will continue to lift up your mind. If you read scriptures and allow Him that gateway of communication, He will give you small reminders along the way that He’s listening.
Be grateful for the plants you already have.
The only way to experience joy during a rough season of life is to be grateful. Remember all the blessings God has already given you as you wait for what you want.
Think of some of these blessings: were they things you once prayed for, planted, nourished, and waited for? Did these blessings come right when you wanted them, or did they take a while? When they came, did it end up being the perfect time for you?
Remembering how far God has brought us is the best way to have hope that he can bring us further still.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Stop comparing your plants to others.
Your plants will grow when they grow. Sometimes you’ll do everything you can and find you’ve gotten a small plant with low yield. It can be hard, but try not to look on other’s gardens with jealousy.
You don’t know what their planting season looked like, or whether they have struggles under the surface. Everyone goes through hard times, and even if someone has progressed further than you in some things, it doesn’t mean that your accomplishments mean less.
Most importantly, comparison is a waste of time. Comparing your small plants to the big, blooming plants of others won’t make yours any bigger or better, and their success doesn’t in any way diminish yours.
“Just because God is smiling on someone else doesn’t mean he’s frowning on you.” -Becky Young Fawcett
Help others with their gardens when you’re not busy with your own.
Service makes the world go round. When you’re feeling depressed and out of sorts, nothing will cure it faster than you helping someone else with their problems.
It doesn’t have to be anything big, either. Here are a few ideas you can do today!
- Write letters to deployed soldiers
- Bake a big batch of banana bread and distribute it to friends and/or neighbors.
- Call your mom.
- Call up a new mom and ask if you can do her dishes.
- Pray to know who needs your help and heed the promptings you receive.
“By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answers to our own.” –Jeffrey R Holland
I promise that even when (or especially when) the planting season is a rough one, there’s one above who has promised a big beautiful garden in your future. Keep working hard and have faith: things will work out!
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