A few weeks before Quarantine hit, a friend of mine dropped off a small potted rose plant for me. She knows I love flowers and enjoy keeping them around my apartment. I usually tend to buy fresh cut ones though because those are meant to die (eventually). I haven’t had good luck with potted plants in the past, but was happy to give it another try.
Yes, I am the person who has killed the “hardest plants to kill” as the masses like to tell me. “Just get a succulent!” I have. Killed them. All of them. Even air plants which need a gentle spritz of water once a week.
I was skeptical I would have any luck, but then Quarantine hit and what else did I have to do with my life/time but baby a plant?
It’s now three months later and my little rose plant is still alive AND it grew so much I needed to put it into a bigger pot. What had I done differently this time than all the other times I sent my potted plants to the Great Garden in the sky?
I learned to check the soil.
Before all the green-thumbed readers give an eye roll and release a gentle but exasperated “duh”, let me explain myself.
I was working under some assumptions. Wrong assumptions as the case may be. You don’t just water plants every day. Some days the soil already has all the moisture it needs. Over-watering can be just as detrimental as under-watering (so I have now learned).
During my daily soil checks, I realized that I need to be doing the same kind of “soil checks” for myself. I require regular routine spiritual maintenance just like my beloved plant.
I can’t just assume I’m doing ok, but need to take a moment and ask God to inspect the soil, too. In the words of David:
“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.” (Psalm 139:23, TPT)
There are days my soil is much drier than I care to admit or even recognize. In those moments, I need to respond appropriately to my needs. What will quench my soul? What will refill me? Yes, consistent Bible reading, prayer and worship keep a steady stream coming in, but there are days that doesn’t feel like enough.
I know how that might sound. “Holly, what you’re saying is GOD IS NOT ENOUGH?!?!” No, actually, I’m not. What I’m saying is God can use a relaxing bubble bath by candlelight or an evening out with my girlfriends to bring some nourishment, too. God’s much bigger than religious prescriptions.
Another thing I do to make sure my plants are doing well (as I already mentioned regarding my rose plant) is make sure the plant has space to grow. When we cramp the roots of our plant by keeping them in a smaller pot then they get “root bound”. What happens to a root bound plant? It can begin to wilt, leaves begin to yellow and growth is stunted. If not taken care of properly (re-potting into a bigger pot), a root bound plant can die.
Again, inspecting the roots is the only way to find out if that’s happening to your plant. Once you know the problem you can effectively administer the change needed to help the plant thrive.
Jesus talked about the importance of soil and roots, too. He tells us the story of four soils, in fact, and how each soil determined the health of the seed and whether it would grow fruit. He mentioned how gravel didn’t work well because it didn’t offer enough soil for roots to grow. Ground constantly walked on won’t be good soil either because it’s too packed down and makes the seeds easy dinner for nearby birds. Other soil was too filled with weeds so the plants were choked out.
Ah, but that rich soil was where it was at– soil so good that seeds could actually produce a harvest! Fruit is also another great indicator of spiritual health. If there isn’t growth in my life it’s important I do some maintenance there.
Regular maintenance always yields the best results.
My dad is an avid gardener. It’s one of his hobbies, which I’m grateful for because I often reap the benefits….literally. Sometimes he asks me to come help weed, which I don’t mind because it’s a bit of “weed therapy” for me. Not that kind of weed therapy. lol. The kind of weed therapy where you can take out any aggression, anger or frustration out by pulling and tossing weeds.
Last year, my dad called me over to help with a section of his garden that had become overcome with knee-high weeds. It took a few hours and much sweat but at the end we enjoyed admiring the results of our hard work. Regular maintenance of that section would have prevented it from getting out of control and over run like that.
We’ve got to be just as diligent in our own lives. It’s not pretty work and you don’t get those nearly as satisfying “before vs. after” pics, but it is worth it. Our growth is worth it.
I now have 3 plants that I am eagerly watching over. Each day enjoying the inspection process because I know that in being mindful of what my plants need it will help them to flourish. The beautiful brightly colored petals and the deep greens of the leaves giving me daily reminders to take care of myself, too.
I deserve the same loving attention and encouragement to grow. Let’s be committed to doing the hard work of regular spiritual maintenance.