I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment lately. And gardening. Turns out, they both have a lot in common. To me, contentment is one of the sweetest gifts I can own. But the “grass is greener” mentality has definitely snuck up on me a few times this past year. Growing my own fruits, vegetables, and flowers is also a sweet gift I’m learning to enjoy. But I’m also struggling my way through it as I learn what to do and not to do with my plants.
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4 Lessons I’ve Learned About Contentment
I am a novice gardener at best. Growing up I watched my mom grow vegetables, flowers, and tropical fruit trees. She gave me a little plot of land in the side yard with a tiny one-foot high white picket fence. ThereI tried to grow my own tomatoes and a few pretty flowers. They all died.
Now that I have my own house with a little yard I am excited to try to learn again. If you follow me on Instagram I highlight each and everything I plant and how it’s doing. Inside I have two palm trees, succulents (OK. I’ve killed two this year…) kolache, herbs, and culinary lavender.
Outside, I have a bunch of azaleas, a peony bush, pansies, more lavender, a mum, a hydrangea, and roses growing on my trellis. They all make me so happy.
SIDE NOTE: One of my favorite books that combines faith and gardening is Cultivate. Go get the book and tell me what you think!
But while I am cultivating my garden outside, God has been cultivating a few changes inside my heart. Here are a few of them.
Lesson #1: The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It
As I told you I struggle with contentment. While I’d never say this phrase out loud, subconsciously I often I think “I’ll Be Happy When….”
When I was single and working a dead-end reporting job in Buffalo I thought “I’ll be happy when I have an important job.”
So I moved to D.C. and worked as a communications director for several members of Congress. Once the novelty wore off, I started to look at my singleness and thought, “I’ll be happy when I finally get married.”
I met my husband right before I moved down to D.C., he asked me out the second day I was there and the rest is history. (Just kidding. I’m leaving a lot out but that’s another story…)
So I got my “dream job,” we got married, and we even bought a house. But the funny thing about getting everything you want is that it never satisfies.
I’ll Be Happy When…
So I start telling myself, “I’ll be happy when we can start a family and I can finally become a stay-at-home mom.”
We saved and planned. And while my office let me work from home Penny’s first eight months, I left work full time and joined the stay at home mom life.
This is my current situation. Yet there are days I still think, “I’ll be happy when we can move closer to my family and where I grew up again.”
But here’s the thing. I can’t be envious of my neighbor’s flowers – or grass for that matter – while neglecting mine. (Who else wants to get this cute “Sometimes I Wet My Plants shirt!”)
If we want to be content in our current situation we have to work for it. We have to invest in our surroundings and people. We have to plant roots. We have to water our own grass or garden.
I now have a one-year-old which makes it a lot more difficult to get together with people. But lately, I’ve been more intentional about getting together with people and more involved with my neighbors and people in my town. I am starting to water my garden. I can’t wait to see what God grows through this time.
#2 The Grass is Greener When You Enjoy Each Stage
As you can see from the above examples, every time I reach a new stage in life I don’t enjoy it as I should. Instead, I only look at “what’s next.”
Can you imagine if I did this with my plants?
It would be like planting a tomato seed, only to see it sprout a week later but getting frustrated that it was not bigger. And as soon as it got bigger, I’d be upset that it was not growing tomatoes!
But now, I am teaching myself to SLOW DOWN and truly live in the present. Today, I might only take care of my baby. and home. I will clean her highchair a dozen times, do laundry, and cook dinner, but there are so many blessings weaved throughout these tasks.
I can slow down and enjoy tickling her and seeing her giggle. I can slow down and be grateful we have clothes to wash. I can slow down and enjoy sitting in the backyard with Penny watching the birds and feeling the breeze. Each stage is a gift and I’m learning to soak it all in while also appreciating how much God has already done.
I’m currently slowing down and enjoying watching my peonies bloom. A few weeks ago sprouts poked through the ground and today the buds are starting to get ready to open.
#3 Sometimes The Grass Will Never Be Green
This is a hard one. Sometimes our “grass” may never be green – then what? When I was single I used to think about what if I never God married. Was God still good? Of course, He has a perfect plan. What if I never had a baby – was He still good? Of course, He has a perfect plan.
For me nowadays, I wonder if I will ever live closer to my family again. But God has a plan. He is still good. And I will still pray for those “brown spots” in my yard to turn green until I get a yes, no, maybe, or I see Jesus face to face.
#4 The Grass is “Greener” When You Allow God To Be Your Gardener
This is my favorite lesson of all. It’s a secret that even as a Christian has eluded me for so many years. It does not matter what kind of seeds, soil, roots, or grass we have. What matters is how we offer these to God and let Him do HIs work. After all, He can turn a mustard seed into a giant tree. Surely, He can do great things in our life.
Also, it doesn’t even matter how brown our grass looks. Maybe our neighbor’s grass is lush and vibrant green – they could still be unhappy. With God, we can live with “brown, full of weeds” grass and still be completely and utterly content. We don’t find true contentment by getting everything we want. In fact, I’d argue, we’d be less content.
We only find true contentment when we surrender to the Gardener. He can show us how to water our own grass, appreciate our flowers as they grow, and even see our “brown” lawn as beautiful.
I hope you’ll take some time with me this week to water our grass, appreciate the present, and trust God with the rest.