by Gina Welborn
A couple years ago my now-3rd-grade-daughter, Rhyinn, gave me a plant for Mother's Day. She had started it from a seed. For a month or so, not much happened, but then the straggly stem exploded with flowers. Despite the nice sunny spot on the windowsill,though, the leaves and flowers eventually fell off. Consequence of overwatering? not consistent watering? roots too big for pot?
My green thumb and I had no idea. And that's the story we're forever sticking with.
Well, around Thanksgiving that year I did a Britney Spears on the leaveless stems. Chop. Chop. Chop. Yes, what remained looked like a leftover prop from the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Didn't take long, though, to notice new leaves growing. By Valentine's day it was it full bloom.
You and I can be like that Mother's Day plant.
Sometimes we over-water ourselves by over-committing ourselves with responsibilities. We end up feeling like we're drowning in things to do. Especially at church. In fact, many churches have the unspoken adage, "Get 'em to agree to serve and you'll have 'em for life." And who can say no to the pastor's plea for someone to host the staff Christmas party? So you've had five parties at your house in the last month. What's one more? Go ahead and bring those Christmas stockings that still need to be sewn, as well as last minute costumes for the Christmas musical. Really. Once you've dusted off the sewing machine, you might as well put it to use. In fact, why doncha just sew up some reuseble gift bags.
Too much food makes us fat. Too much wine makes us drunk. Too much makeup makes us scary. No is NOT a four-letter word.
Sometimes we water ourselves socially so sporadically that we attend _____ once a month and expect people to treat us like we're there all the time. Oh my satellite dishes, I see this all the time in churches. We want relationships--want to feel a part of the group--yet we get angry when everyone ignores us in favor of "their little cliques." Never do we see how our hit-and-miss participation and our wallflower attitude contributes to our lack of relationships. So we blame. We complain. We decide to go to another church because we're certain the women's ministry, youth group, pastoral staff, choir, _____ are friendlier over there.
As my momma used to say, "You get out of something what you put in it." Start practicing the fine art of investing in others.
Sometimes our roots have grown so that they're squishing us in the pot. We need to break out and replant in a new pot where we can grow more. How? Well, first of all I'm not advocating leaving your family, church, friendships, or whatever in favor of a new one. I'm talking about stepping outside your comfort zone. Let's stick with the church example. If you only go to church to be fed and don't do serving, then you're gonna eventually stop producing good fruit (or leaves and flowers in the case of my plant). If you've been serving in the same place since Noah got off the Ark, could be you're bonsai'ng yourself.
When I was in high school, our activities director, Mrs. Horton, used to answer my questions with "Because, Gina, we've done it this way for X years and it works." She said it so many times I think she wished she had it written on business cards that she could hand me everytime I walked into the activities office. Still, she must not have held it against me because she gave me some lovely brass napkin rings when I got married.
My feeling was (and still is) yes, it may work, but is there a way it could work better, could produce more?
If you've had the same hairstyle for the last five years, you have stagnant hair. If you've been singing in the choir for the last ten years, you have stagnant service. (I hear choir directors rising in revolt. Don't burn me at the stake just yet.) What about taking a year off from choir and teaching in a Sunday School class or volunteering to help in the nursery department even if it's been years since you talked to someone under the age of five. Pray about it. God directs many a willing heart.
Sometimes we just need to be pruned so we can regrow. Ouch. I don't know about you, but any pruning God's done on me hasn't been pleasant. While I don't necessarily like my flaws, I'm comfortable with them. We're on a first-name basis.
One of my kids once founda cross necklace and put it on our dog. Cute. Sadly, though, wearing that cross necklace doesn't make DeeOhGee any more spiritual, any more of a good-fruit-producer. He still barks at the neighbor kids. Still uses the backyard as his bathroom. Still is a dog who licks his unmentionables.
Wearing the right clothes, going to the right church, reading the right Bible translation doesn't make me any more spiritual. Those only contribute to the facade. I need pruning so I can grow in Christ, grow more like Christ.
You, dear reader, need pruning too.
As we approach the end of 2011, it's time we start thinking outside, inside, on top, around, and under the green box. Wrap the green box. Reuse the green box to plant flowers or make a dog bed. Maybe, just maybe, you need to take a stand on that green box.
Therefore, just as you've received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith
just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
GINA WELBORN loves watching Surviror and Community, playing Mario and Zelda with her middle child, and baking anything sweet and tasty (talk about redundant!). Years—okay, eons—ago, Gina worked in news radio scripting copy until she realized how depressing human tragedy was, so she took up writing romances and now only thinks “It is time for a dead body?” when she’s at a lull in her newest manuscript. This Oklahoma-raised girl now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her youth-pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, and a Sharpador Retriever who doesn’t retrieve much of anything (but he can sit really well). Her first novella, “Sugarplum Hearts,” part of the HIGHLAND CROSSINGS anthology, will be released by Barbour in February 2012. Her second novella, "All Ye Faithful," release fall 2012 in the A CASCADES CHRISTMAS anthology.