Last night it poured. The rain was unexpected, but in the heat of a Tennessee summer, it is always a welcomed sight. As the downpour trickled to a light summer shower, I put on my old, teal tennis shoes, headed outside, and walked with purpose to the garden that outlines my backyard. With my shovel and trowel in hand, I bent down and began to work.
The weeds in my garden were beckoning my attention, and I knew digging out the accumulated mess from weeks of neglect would be easier in their soaked state. It’s something a gardener learns over time. Weeds pulled when the ground is dry is nearly impossible. But after a strong rain, they become pliable and tender, making the work so much easier.
Every time I go through this process of pulling weeds, I think about the journey of the heart.
My own heart in particular and the hard work put in to extract those once life-sucking weeds that stunted my growth. As I kneel and pull, I ponder the traumatic life circumstances I’ve endured, recognizing today there was purpose to all of them. I couldn’t understand it at the time. But now, I know the unexpected, pop-up storms came to prepare my heart for the transformative work of my master gardener, God.
I didn’t and couldn’t understand it at the time. In fact, I asked why more often than not. Because my humanness could not begin to grasp the purpose or reason God would allow such pain to pass. When you’re in the mess, it is hard to see or understand. But gardening has enabled me to get it.
Because I see what happens when I pull the weeds and prune the plants, stronger, more abundant blooms grow. It’s scientifically true. No, it doesn’t make it any easier, but seeing it happen in the physical world allows me to understand there is purpose behind it in the spiritual realm as well.
Today, I know I wouldn’t be who I am without the storms I have weathered.
It is only because of the difficult times I have endured that I am able to say these things are true of my life.
Today I speak because I have been silenced.
Today I have faith because I have been afraid.
Today I have boundaries because I have been shamed.
Today I have community because I have been lonely.
Today I have joy because I have known sadness.
Today I ask for help because I have been prideful.
Today I know grace because I have known guilt.
While I could write a list a mile long, I stop to simply say, I am who I am as a result of everything I have been through. I don’t discount any of the journey. Because though there have been seasons when I have despised the cross I was asked to bear, I know there was purpose to the rain. The weeds of life had overtaken the garden within my soul and the Great Gardener saw the beautiful potential and the blooms waiting and wanting to open. But He knew the weeds were sucking the nutrients needed for life. So he sent a storm, instead of the sun, to make me pliable. I am so grateful for the storm and the Gardener who knew what I needed most and loved me enough to do what was best for me, regardless of how hard it was to endure.
And, you know what? It was worth every bit of the work.
Today, if you’re in the middle of a storm or seeing one on the horizon, I want you to know there is purpose. While I know you can’t see it and I know you are scared, understand God is doing something new. He sees what you are incapable of seeing. Know it is OK to ask why. It is OK to kick and scream. It is OK to ask for help. It is even OK to get angry. I’ve done it all. I’ve even cursed and pushed God away. But you know what, He held me still. And He’ll hold you, too! Give yourself grace in the midst of this time and know He loves you, He sees you, and He is working on your behalf.
Previously published on the author’s blog