Since we got here, my biggest struggle has been watching my kids struggle…all three of them in all different ways. I’ve been talking to the Lord about it, asking for wisdom and guidance, patience and endurance. And He has been answering, giving me the words in the moment, helping me hold my tongue when I want to be cross, assuring me that He sees and knows and cares -about them and about me. But tonight I feel weary. I don’t want to battle for them and with them. I’m ready for things to get easier, to fall into place. But just when I’m wanting to settle in to this place, to dissolve into discouragement and self-pity, I hear these words and Jesus so gently and so simply reminds me, “Your kids are a garden. You’re just in the planting stage. Don’t stop now.”
And I know a little about gardening. I know that planting is really hard work. It’s hot and dirty and sweaty. Your hands get blistered, and you get dirt under your finger nails. I know it takes time, so much time. It takes attention to detail. You have to plan and measure and study if you want it to turn out right. You have to know what you want to grow and what it will take to thrive and turn into something beautiful or useful or both. I know that even when the soil has been prepared and the seeds have all been planted, you still aren’t finished. You’re just beginning. You must keep working and watering and weeding and watching. You don’t dare stop. You work and you wait and you trust…trust that under all that barren earth, good stuff is taking root, trust that someday you will see new things breaking through, that life will begin to show instead of plain old dirt. This is what I know about gardening.
So I picture their struggling hearts with the empty and dull and turned-over places. I’m not blind to what is there, but my perspective is changed. I’m not so tempted to quit or cry in discouragement at what I don’t see. I know that it’s okay. It’s okay that this parenting thing is messy and dirty and exhausting. It’s okay that there are weeds showing up. It’s okay that I can’t see the signs of life I’m hoping for. It’s like a garden, and right now we are just breaking up the ground, planting the seeds, pulling up the old weeds to make room for new growth. There will be a time when the plants are tall and the fruit is obvious and abundant. But not now, not yet. Now is our time to keep doing the work, planting good seed, watering what’s there, and trusting for a harvest of righteousness. So I will…and my kids are going to be just fine.
So do not become weary in doing good for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
(I wrote this two weeks ago but it’s just been sitting here unpublished waiting for pictures. I’ve been thinking so much about this lesson, this perspective, but tonight was just one of those nights with the boys. They were finally all off to their classes. Jon and I were standing on the grass overlooking the meeting, listening to the worship. I was wanting to join in but I held back, feeling so raw, so tired, so defeated. Questioning, wondering if I’m getting anything right? Then a tap on my shoulder and a soft voice asked if we were the parents of a particular set of boys. When we nodded, she told us that she had been observing them at school and offered some praise on their behavior, then she ended with this, “Whatever you are doing, it is working. It is obvious that they love the Lord. I just thought you should know.” She walked away, and I started to cry. God always knows just what I need! If any of my mama friends are out there feeling like me…tired, discouraged, questioning. Take heart. There is fruit and it is growing, even when we cannot see.)