Caveat: Please take agriculture advice with caution. This therapist is not a licensed horticulturist or approved by the Commission on Agriculture.
My husband and mother-in-law taught me an interesting lesson over mother’s day. As we walked in to my mother-in-law’s house, proudly with our gift of tomato plants grown from seed, we anxiously awaited her review of our newly-found farming techniques. Through the early part of the year, we had converted our small “mud-room” into a make-shift greenhouse, carefully tending our little seedlings. They received plenty of light, water & attention in a well-tended environment, they grew tall and were the perfect leafy green. In other words, we provided a lot of nurture to our young seedlings in a well controlled environment.
My mother-in-law thanked us and was ecstatic about our attempt. She and her husband had farmed much of their lives, as had their parents before them, and our interest showed perhaps we were not a total lost cause in agricultural ventures. After awhile she asked how often we were watering the plants and when we were planning on planting them outside.
Becoming instantly protective over our little seedlings we said that it was too soon to let them outside, there was no way to know when the next frost may be, that, as she knew, we had had an unusual spring, with surprising frosts and windy storms and we gave them water regularly every day, etc. etc.
She looked at us and shook her head, telling us that we should water them right when they started to look “sad” and droopy, that they would tell us when they needed to be watered and that they needed to be outside where the wind made their stocks strong and their leaves “bunchier” and full. WHAT?? We were supposed to wait until our plants looked dead before they gave them what they needed, put them outside against the wind and expose them to the elements so they could thrive? WHAT?? She smiled and said, “Exactly.”
As we took her advice, I began to think about how we do this in our own lives, protecting ourselves, our lives and our families from the elements in a perfectly controlled environment. When the elements come to us; elements of change, stress, and life events that alter how we see the world and see ourselves in the world we get frustrated and yell to the winds of change to stop so we can get back to the business of growing and enjoying the sunshine from the windowsill and cool drinks of water. However, the funny thing is, that those are the times that shape us, make us “bushier” (as my mother-in-law would say) also make us stronger. The most important thing is that those are the times that create us to be capable of holding the “fruit” that we are able to bring to the world. My mother-in-law had said that with our perfectly nurtured tomato plants would do fine, until it tried to grow a tomato. Then, under the weight of the fruit, (what the tomato plant is supposed to produce!) the branch would just break off before the fruit was even developed.
In this I learned a lesson about the relationship between change, growth and purpose. Change provides challenge which causes us to grow so that we will be able to hold our purpose. And, bring what we were always supposed to produce (whatever kind of tomato that may be!) to the world to make it better and to give to others so that they may grow too.
If the winds of change are blowing in your life, it may be the development of strength inside of you to be able to hold your purpose. This doesn’t mean it is not difficult, but it does mean that you will get through it, and on the other side you will be able to see how those times shaped you to be able to support the meaning and purpose in your life.