Last week a friend stopped by for a visit, saw my plants, and offered some advice. The need was evident. One of my succulents sits with its overgrown stalk resting on the kitchen window, like a child smooshing its face into the glass. Across the counter sits a different plant, droopy and over-watered, looking as if trying to reach something to hold on to, only to give up. She told me the size of the pots is the problem, affecting their healthy growth. One has too much room, and the other is cramped. I had no idea!
Doing research, I found on SimplifyPlants’ website that “different species of plants have different care requirements, and each of them acts differently in a particular situation.” For example, when the pot’s size is too small, the nutrients present in the soil will be absorbed quickly by the plant, and the roots may become root bound. On the other hand, if you put a plant in a pot too big, the plant will not be able to absorb appropriate nutrients. In addition, the soil may hold too much water, leading to root rot and other pest problems in the plants. So, I learned that I have to be intentional in my pot selection for each plant, giving it the appropriate soil, water, and fertilizer it requires.
Thinking about plants reminds me of how God made us uniquely in his image, planting us strategically for growth, pruning, and harvesting (Jeremiah 17:7-8). God knows when we need a smaller space for our roots to grow deep, and he knows when we are ready for a larger area of expansion. He also gives us “fertilizer” through his Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and his church, where we encourage and support one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Unfortunately, we often want to control where we are planted, our speed of growth, and the fruit we bring. Other times, we may not want to grow but remain where we are, tired and weary from the process. Its often in grief where we feel the struggle the most. When we endure suffering, we may feel we’ve been ripped from our pot and question if we’ll ever grow again. We are challenged in our faith to trust the master gardener (John 15:1-27), who we are to abide in, through all seasons of life. He is the one who causes us to grow and prunes us when needed. He gives us Jesus, our living water and nourishment, promising through him we won’t hunger or thirst again (John 4:10, 6:35)
Let’s encourage one another not to struggle out of our pots. As it is for us and those we help, God knows where we belong, even when it feels foreign, dull, or barren. Let’s remind ourselves and them to soak in the living water of Jesus and allow him to fertilize our soil. Be intentional in the community around you, supporting, encouraging, and tending to one another. And with patience and perseverance, we look forward to the Kingdom of God…
…yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE. – Mark 4:32
Tanya Flores, Reproductive Loss Network