Rest & Tend to Your Garden

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This photo was taken from one of my favorite trips to Oregon with my dear sister. Looking outside at the mounds of snow certainly makes me want to jump right back into where this photo was taken, but I’m also learning to appreciate the different kinds of beauty in each season… even snow! So I hope as you read this, you’re all curled up in a blanket, warm and enjoying the coziness and the white wonderland we have all around us right now (well, if you are in good old Alberta that is).

It’s been a bit of a funny week for me. It started on Sunday night while prepping my lunch for the following day. I was also rehearsing in my head everything I had to do that week, everyone I had to meet with, the things at work I needed to remember, the endless to-do list of wedding prep… Then suddenly it all changed due to a stomach virus or food poisoning (jury’s still out on that one) and my carefully thought-out schedule for the week went out the window.  I’m sure many of you can relate to a moment like that!

So I was forced to rest. I’ll probably be writing a lot about rest in the next while, as that seems to be what the Lord is trying to teach me these days. I’m still not perfect at it, but I’m learning. Learning how to be still. Learning how to walk at a steady pace instead of frantically running about to accomplish everything, help everyone and then burn out. I frankly have just gotten tired of a lifestyle that functions on high levels of caffeine, anxiety and adrenaline and as life gets progressively fuller those things seemed to just increase. I remember once praying for a greater capacity to do more as I was drinking my third cup of coffee for the day and felt the Lord question my prayer, when I examined my heart I realized I didn’t want greater capacity to do anything. What I truly wanted was a good sleep. I suppose I got my wish a few days later.

The minute I got sick,  I felt this weird sense of peace and relief. I was so happy to be home, happy to relinquish my plans for the day to be in bed. But as I laid there, I started to get scared. It’s like the Lord ripped off the layer that had formed over my heart with the busyness and suddenly, with no one around and nowhere to go I was suddenly forced to just see…. Me.

The Rachel who was just… lying there. Who wasn’t doing anything…

To be honest I felt kind of empty and disconnected. I felt alone, and for someone who is a true introvert and treasures her alone time I was surprised I was feeling that way.
Different questions started to flood my mind. Instead of figuring out my schedule like I had been twelve hours ago, I found my mind wandering to questions such as, “who am I again?”, “what sets me apart?”, “am I enough?”,  or “Why do I feel disconnected from God and people when I do nothing?” ….

Big questions. Questions I thought I had answers too, and to some I did. But I had ignored tending to the garden of my heart for so long that it is taking me some time to cut down the weeds that were choking out my understanding of the truth of who I was while I was looking the other way into what I needed to do or be.

It reminded me of this summer when I felt the Lord encourage me to plant a little garden (truthfully, pots with seeds in them-but hey it’s a beginning). Learning to care, and water and protect those little seeds as they were growing into beautiful plants was a sweet picture to me of how much something grows when it is cared for. Even when I couldn’t see the progress under the soil. I remember at the end of the summer I got busier, and didn’t take care for them with the same care I had at the beginning. And naturally most of them (except for Kale, that stuff is super hardy!) began to wilt and die.

“Tend to your garden…”,

The same words I heard last summer have been coming up again. With the fresh blanket of snow out there, I know that doesn’t mean an outdoor garden. It means the garden of my heart. Disregarding our hearts comes at a cost. Our hearts are actually really  important and we need to treat them as such. We are only as healthy as our hearts are. When we disregard our hearts we disconnect from ourselves, from those around us and from God. Our hearts were made to be one with His, and when we don’t care for them it affects our connection with Him. It affects our ability to receive from Him.

Jesus talks about this in Matthew 13:18…

Matthew 13:1-8, THE MSG

“At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.
“What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams”

If those seeds are the truth of Jesus, I want my heart to be good soil for those seeds to fall on so that they produce a harvest beyond my wildest dreams. But I have a responsibility into cultivating that kind of soil in my heart so it can.
I know my life is not as busy as it could be, or most definitely will get. But in every season I’m not powerless in how I spend my time. Sometimes I feel like time controls me but the reality is I have a voice in how I chose to spend it.

So, going forward I want to learn how to tend to the garden of my heart better.

Beginning with the way I spend my time.

I want more time letting those seeds be watered instead of trying to water everyone and everything myself. I’m more effective and love people better when I’m doing it from a place of being full, instead of scraping at the bottom for something to give.

Less time distracting myself with social media and filling my schedule, and more time letting the kindness of Jesus lead me to pick out the weeds.

Less time figuring out how to please others, and more time getting to know others. Also more time getting to know myself.

Less time talking with others about how busy we are, and more time enjoying one another for who we are.

More time walking in the light of his grace and less time striving for perfection.

Less coffee and more sleep (well at least the more sleep part… kidding).

Just, less . So He can be more.

How do you tend to the garden of your heart? I’d love to hear about it!

You are dearly loved.

– Rachel Elizabeth

My cute little garden!