South Dakota can be crazy windy—especially across the flat, wide-open fields. The greenhouse I work at just so happens to sit on the edge of one such windy field. Since two thirds of our plants don’t actually fit in the greenhouse, they sit outside: where they can get quite the beating. I kid you not, I’ve had a wheelbarrow fly across the entire parking lot and road on an extra windy day. It’s ridiculous.
When I got hired in May, we had tons of plants out there: a sea of annuals and petunias, 10 pallets of bushes, and around 20 trees planted in little five-gallon buckets. Something that endlessly annoyed me (and a handful of outspoken customers) was that the wind always knocked the trees over. Always. They were simply too tall and top-
heavy for their little pots. I ended up just letting them lay on the ground, only picking them up twice a day to water them.
They were so sad. Their dirt was spilling out, and as their roots grew they were running out of room. Soon, what I feared happened: their leaves started turning brown and crisp. They were dying. If only they’d been in bigger pots, or better yet planted in the ground, they would have been thriving! By now they’re long gone, thrown in the dumpster once they died completely.
(Insert a solemn tree funeral here before switching gears.)
Something I’ve been struggling with lately is the desire for quick growth. In my blog, education, and job, I just want to get where I’m going already! I have hopes for where I’d like those things to go in the future, which is good, but those ideal little images keep interfering with my present. In right-now’s day-to-day life, every mundane detail can wear on me. Progress is slow. Things take more time and work than I’d imagined. A lot of times I feel stuck.
But last week while I was watering the plants at work, I realized this: all the bushes are still alive. All those short, sturdy bushes in pots that seemed too big for them are thriving! While all the trees have been decomposing wherever-the-garbage-truck-brought-them for weeks, the bushes have been growing lush and thick: even in the same wind.
Let me explain why this got me so excited. A lot of times I feel quite like those bushes on day one: too small for where I’ve been planted and far, far too short. I gaze longingly up at the trees and their lofty heights, their gracefully slender trunks that race up to canopies of leaves. They seem to touch the sky.
I just wanted that! I wanted to grow fast: race to the sky, arrive, and smile down.
But wait. Those trees didn’t do too hot. Their pots, their foundations, were far too small. They grew too fast and became top heavy, unable to support themselves. When the winds came they panicked, yelled ”timber!” because there was no defense. All the watering in the world couldn’t salvage them at that point.
If only they’d been in bigger pots, or better yet planted in the ground!
Oh, how crucial it is to have a good, sturdy foundation! It’s possible to shoot skywards without one, but it’s utterly impossible to stay there for long before crashing to the ground. It’s far better to grow slowly while building a foundation than to grow freakishly fast, get there, crash and wither.
This is a prayer I’ve been praying lately: “God, if my heart isn’t ready for the success I dream of, if it’s still too feeble and prone to pride and selfishness, don't give it to me! Don’t let me hurt myself and others down the road because I wasn’t ready for whatever it is that’s coming."
What kind of foundation do we need, then? What kind of a foundation have I been seeking? There are tons of aspects to it, but there is one thing that the others will all rotate around, depend on, and thrive off: a strong, rooted and growing relationship with God. We need to be getting into his Word every day, talking to him, actively deepening our love and passion for him and what he’s doing in this world. This is the foundation we so desperately need. This is what will strengthen and fuel the other aspects of our roots: our relationships, good habits, honest and humble hearts, and wisdom. This is what it all depends on.
So here’s what I want you to hear: It’s ok to be a short little bush planted in a big ole’ pot. Yes, progress is slow. It can feel like life is dragging its feet and you’ll never get to where you’re going, but take a breath: you will. It may take til the end of your life, and realistically you’re probably not even headed exactly where you think you’re going, but you’ll get there.
And once you get there, planted in a sturdy foundation, the same winds that would have killed you years before won’t even phase you. So relax, take the pressure and expectations off, and enjoy the time in between now and then. That’s where the vast majority of life goes on, which happens to be the best place to build a foundation. Don’t let yourself be discouraged.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!