Over the last seven years of our marriage, my husband has become a true gardener. When we were engaged he made a new friend who began teaching him about flowers, trees, and planting gardens, and over the last seven years together my husband has grown more and more independent in his gardening ability.
In front of our front porch there is a small brick patio with two chairs and a fire pit surrounded by a little semi circle brick wall and flower bed.
This year the flower bed is perfect.
My husband planned it meticulously mixing annuals and perennials, colors and heights to create a symphonic garden. The result is beautiful, the most lovely place in our yard to sit and read a book or watch our children draw on the driveway with chalk.
I like that despite the fact that English is such a prolific language we use the same word to talk about plants growing as we do to talk about people growing. I think that paralell can lead us to something valuable about how to think about our identity.
Like I said, my husband arranged all the plants in that flower bed to work together in harmony – some are tall, some are short, some are just greenery and some are flowers. But they are all necessary to create the whole that executes his vision.
I believe that is the way it is with us as people too. We are each our own kind of plant - short or tall, flowering or evergreen. We are created to grow in a certain way into a certain kind.
And then of course in this analogy, the gardener is God. He plans us where he desires us to grow so that, in harmony with the other parts of the body of Christ, our fellow brothers and sisters, we may simultaneously bloom into a garden of the Gardeners design.
It is specifically our differences that execute the vision.
So what does this have to do with our identity? Well, simply put, I think it means that we need to nurture the belief that we are indeed exactly the right kind of plant for exactly where we are planted. If we doubt where we are we are asking the wrong question.
So often we doubt where we are and who we are, feeling out of place and either ill-suited for the mission or discouraged by the fact that our mission is not as large or flowery as someone else’s.
This is a struggle that we can invite Christ into.
He is the good Gardener. He planted you with intention and intelligence. He crafted you into the kind of plant that you are, not by accident but by design. So when we doubt those very aspects of our placement is it not natural to seek the input of the one who put us there?
When a child has a question, what do they do? They ask why. They seek the answer.
So why do we allow ourselves to be consumed with doubt and fretting when we could simply ask the one who planted us to help us see the logic of it all.
God will likely not send us a billboard with all the information spelled out for us. But I think it’s very likely that he will gently and consistently reveal the nature of our placement if we ask.
I think that this is an integral part of healing our identity – having these “Why” conversations with God from a place of curiosity and not anger. When we go to God while trusting his wisdom as the good gardener, our “Why?” becomes a hopeful question and not an accusation. The sub text is not “ What in the world were you thinking?“ but “Can you help me see what you were thinking?”
This subtle difference in approaching God opens the door of our heart to him in a powerful way. When we start from a place of trust, even when we don’t see the logic yet, we give God the freedom to speak to us in powerful ways because we are disposed to receiving it.
We also open ourselves to much greater peace and calm in the meantime, even if the answer hasn’t come yet. Operating from this place of right generosity with God soothes our very souls.
There is a place for you. And trusting in that, even when you can't see it, is one of your most powerful tools to grow in relationship with the Creator, the Gardener, who made that place for you.