When I think of planting seeds, there are two methods that come to mind. Planting your normal everyday veggie or flower seeds, and planting bulbs. The first type is my favorite. I love the whole process of preparing the dirt, poking little dents in the soil, dropping in the itty bitty seeds, smoothing the soil back over them, and adding the water. I love that in just a few days the first sprouts begin to peek through the ground – tender and bright green and adorable. I love checking on them every day to exclaim over the growth and the new leaves and then the first buds. It’s fun, it’s a little awe-inspiring, and usually, it’s not super hard.
If I’m honest, most of the growth in my life has been like that. Most things have come fairly easily for me. A seed of desire is planted in my heart, I put forth the effort, and I see the growth. School came easily for me growing up and when I transitioned into the workplace, I earned praise and good reviews there too. When I was living in Seattle and started dating my future husband who was in Orlando, I tossed everything I owned into my car and drove across the country without much fuss or worry. Two years later, we were married. I wanted kids right away, and even though we suffered a heart-breaking first loss, it wasn’t long after that that we had our first son and then two more in (very) short order. The homeschooling seed was planted and has grown into a beautiful (though challenging!) little garden. I’ve led a fairly charmed life.
But then there’s the other type of seed – the bulb. I confess I haven’t planted a bulb since those kindergarten daffodils back in the day (and I’m talking my kindergarten days, not my childrens’!). I don’t have the patience for it. Planting a bulb is different than planting a seed. You don’t poke a little dent in the soil, you dig a hole and then drop the bulb in. And then you cover it up, add some water, and leave it there for months. For the whole winter, the bulb is down there in the dark, doing its thing where no one can see it, slowly sending out roots, and even more slowly reaching for the surface, where it will eventually break through when the time is right. Despite my lack of patience for the process, even I have to admit that there’s something impressive about the daffodil. The stalks are strong and firm. The flowers are bold and beautiful. They are worth that time in the dark.
The “bulb planting” times in my life have been the more challenging times. The growing seasons I wish I could fast forward through, but that I appreciate in hindsight. Growing up as an Army brat, we moved every three to four years. This was traumatic - constantly being uprooted and leaving or being left. I wished it away a million times while in the midst of it. But having grown up that way, I am fully aware that change is not the enemy, but simply the way of life. I know that God works all things to His good and I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what comes next. I know that leaving one chapter makes way for the next one. And I know that home has nothing to do with a city or a house and everything to do with my people. Those lessons were hard-earned over most of my childhood, but now in the flowering phase I am grateful for the time I spent growing.
Sometimes the blooming is harder to recognize. My first marriage was a season in the dark for me. I knew pretty much immediately that I’d made a mistake but it seemed unfixable. I spent nearly two years frantically churning away underground, feeling like nothing was happening. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I finally began to feel movement. I found my way back to God, and followed Him on what turned out to be the incredible path that led me to here. But when I look back on that season, even though I’m sure that growth must have been happening, I find it hard to see. How exactly did I grow stronger or bolder or better? I honestly don’t know. I believe that God grows us the most in our seasons of struggle – when we feel hidden away and alone in the dark – and so I know that big things were happening then. Maybe I will recognize them someday. Maybe it’s not important that I understand the growth, but it’s simply enough that it happened.
God is constantly growing us in ways both big and small. Sometimes we can see the growth as it happens and we delight in it. Sometimes it comes harder and slower and we feel alone in it, but the growing is bigger and deeper and boldly beautiful when all is said and done. Wherever you are, whatever growth you are currently experiencing, know that you are intentionally planted, lovingly nurtured, and there is beauty at the end of your journey.
Jenn is a book-reading, quietly nerdy introvert who has, one choice at a time, managed to completely surround herself with chaos. Wife to one incredible man, and homeschooling-mama to three crazy-awesome boys, life is almost never quiet...but in each day there are moments - brief pauses in the crazy - and it is there that she finds God. He is in a quiet breeze through the trees, in a one-on-one conversation, in a lingering glance at a sleeping child's face. It is enough.