“The Wind Is What Makes Them Strong…”

This first day of May was a little bit of a comedy-of-errors day. Not completely, but enough to make me just stop and laugh — including having to return something that didn’t work, cutting open my pinky when putting up my mom’s new window shade (no, I didn’t hammer it — the shade fell and caught my finger…), and dropped the lock for the shed, in the dark, and spent quite a while with a flashlight trying to find it.

But like all days, good moments are mixed in too. Sometimes we just have to flip our perspectives a bit: I made the exchange, installed the shade, and found the lock. ; ) (And the lock had been right next to my foot the whole time, but for some odd reason, I couldn’t see it. And, yes, that made me laugh too. Maybe God knew I needed to find the humor. ; )

One of the best parts of the day though (along with trying a new recipe, hearing a great sermon, and watching “I Love Lucy” with my mom) was when I stopped by the plant shop. I needed to ask an expert about the little tomato and basil plants my mom and I started from seeds. They were still so small. I’d been setting them out in the shade every day, like the instructions said. I figured I’d keep doing this for a while until they appeared stronger. (I usually use starter plants, not seeds…)

To back up just a bit, the instructions also said to plant three to four seeds in each pellet of soil. And then, when they started growing, to only allow one plant per pellet… I knew the reasoning behind that, but I didn’t like the idea of choosing one and pinching off the others… (I also don’t like killing bugs, so if I find one, like a cricket or an ant or a spider, I’ll happily catch it, then find him a home outdoors.) After deciding it was just like giving the plants a haircut (not a good analogy, but it worked for me at the time), I quickly did what I had to do, and have been diligent about watering them lightly and setting them in the shade each day.

The garden expert told me, however, that it was time for those plants to receive full sun every day — and that in two weeks, they’d be so much stronger and ready for transplanting in the ground. But I protested a little, telling him that the stems were so thin — and that it seemed even the slightest bit of wind would break them in two — and what about when it rained? — and wasn’t there something else I could do instead to help them grow more before letting them experience that hot, full sun and unpredictable weather?

The expert just smiled. It wasn’t a sarcastic smile to make me feel ignorant. It wasn’t a sympathetic smile, thank goodness. It was an all-knowing, reassuring smile. After a moment, he said, “The wind is what makes them strong.” The resistance. The Great Outdoors. Nature’s gym for plants. Even plants have to work out, it seems. He then said it was the same with trees — that trees get stronger as they sway in the wind, making them less likely to snap in really bad weather…

And maybe that’s why God allows less-than-ideal circumstances sometimes… He’s using “the elements” to bring about something really good … including a strength that might not develop any other way … so that we don’t end up as victims to anything or anyone, not even ourselves. And when I feel like, surely, there has to be a better way, another way — and when will this season or that season change — I’m going to remember the image of our little, skinny tomato plants, and envision the large, strong, healthy plants they will become…

I already loved gardening, and knew some great analogies, but now I love it even more — and can’t wait to see what other life lessons are right around my feet…


2 thoughts on ““The Wind Is What Makes Them Strong…”

  1. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

    That is the very beginning of James 1. I liked reading the story of your day.

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