It is 30 degrees this morning – hardly what we hope for on this first Monday morning of Spring. But Spring is here nonetheless and with it comes green grass, blooming flowers, buds on the trees and the promise of all things being new again. I think it’s all these visible reminders of God’s restoration that are so easily seen in Spring that make it my favorite time of year.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. By the time New Year’s gets here, I’m barely hanging on. Not only has the Christmas season worn me slick, it’s also my wedding anniversary (New Year’s Eve) and the anniversary of my mother’s death (New Year’s Day).
The last thing I want to add to this week of my life is more “I SHOULDS.”
So I pass on New Year’s resolutions without guilt or shame.
Besides, it seems to me like Spring is a much easier time to consider “new beginnings” in my personal life that reflect the world’s visible recreation going on around me. As the weather warms, the days get longer and our activities shift to the outdoors, I am challenged to assess ways I can bring new life to my spiritual walk as well. Here are four things I’m asking myself to consider as a way of doing some spiritual spring cleaning. (Maybe you’ll find one or two helpful as well.)
1. What Seeds Am I Planting
Ok, to be honest, I don’t even like planting seeds. Why? Because they take so much planning, patience and time to grow! I prefer to cheat and buy the beautiful array of 6-pack perennials and annuals that have already grown to 3-4 inches. I’m that person who stands there for hours carefully choosing the healthiest plants in the bunch. All because I want the prettiest flower beds possible – with the least amount of effort and cost associated with it!
Honestly, sometimes I approach other things in my life with this same attitude. I spend my time with people who are “easy to love” and think much like I do. Conversations are easy and make me feel good. But I don’t always take time to build bridges to others who on the surface seem to be very distant from me. I don’t always push away from my computer to follow after someone who walks by obviously stressed and/or distressed by something in his/her life. I don’t make efforts to reconcile relationships that were once beautiful ground cover that added a rich dimension to my garden.
Seed planting is hard. Let’s look around our lives and watch for opportunities to plant them anyway.
2. How Does My Garden Grow
One of my favorite things about Spring Break is going away for a week and returning to find that my hostas are all peeking up from the dirt. Now, I am a hosta LOVER and I have the spots etched in my brain where each hosta is to emerge in my yard. It warms my heart as one by one, they come to life.
Yet I am always a little perplexed as to how this simple process occurs. Why is it that some come up sooner than others? Why do some grow quicker than others? And heaven forbid, why do some never come up at all?
These questions remind me of God’s timing in my own heart. Sometimes He reveals things to me quickly. Yet for other things, it feels like I will never understand. But whether it’s my heart or my yard, I trust in His care of His Creation. New growth is occurring in my life because as I trust more and more in the Gospel and His plan for me to REST in His peace. And I imagine God smiles as he sees this heart growth, just as I do when I see the green tip of those hostas break the ground.
3. Apply the Pre-Emergent
I don’t often use the word hate, but there are a few acceptable exceptions and this is one of those. I HATE weeds in my grass and yard. As soon as they start coming up and ruining what I’ve worked so hard to create, I start the weed and feed. Then the weed killer. Last summer, none of that worked so it wasn’t at all unusual to find me out in my yard early in the morning with a spade and a bucket physically digging up weeds that were choking out my grass and driving me crazy with their unsightliness. We live on a corner lot. It’s a pretty big yard. There were hundreds of weeds! Yet I kept trying to get them, one by one!
There are easier ways to preserve one’s grass (and back) – one of the best ways is to apply a pre-emergent about this time of year. This predisposes weeds NOT to grow in the first place. You see weeds are just like the bad things in our own lives. They are much easier to keep from growing than they are to keep from spreading, choking out the good and beautiful things of our lives.
So what would a spiritual pre-emergent look like? For me, it would probably mean that I would use that time that I was pulling up weeds to sit with my Bible, quietly reflecting on how this amazing Big God loves me so much that I can REST in the identity I find in him. He created me to be his daughter, not a weed puller. He is my pre-emergent – but I still need to take the time to allow him to wash over my life.
4. Smell the Roses
I only have one rose bush. It’s on the side of my yard- the side that’s about to become the side yard to a VU loan officer who is building on the lot beside me. He might think I’m a little weird if he finds me over there smelling that bush that divides our property. But then again, maybe in doing so I would get an opportunity to visit with him and his wife. Maybe their two small children will become comfortable with me and I can enjoy watching them grow up.
Or maybe I sit on the back deck and listen to the birds sing or the locusts hum. Maybe I just sit and be and allow God to speak to my heart.
Life doesn’t always have to be about the doing. It is about the being as well.