I am not gentle with myself. I am a perfectionist & if I can’t do something perfectly, I usually have a “why even bother attitude”. Desires become idols really quickly in my heart, & when the outcome isn’t what I’d like, or I can’t have something exactly as I’d like, I am really let down. It’s a dream if mine to have a thriving family homestead one day. (One we may be putting off a while for hospitality’s sake.) Eventually, I want to grow (& raise!) most of our food with my kids helping & enjoying our own homegrown, seed-to-table, slow food. Canning, preserving – the whole ‘putting food by’ is a huge desire of my heart. I want to learn farming skills with a passion, but I’m trying to break my idolatry cycle, so I’ve laid this desire at His feet, & asked Him to help me learn, but also, to not let my dream become an idol.
My first attempt at gardening occurred last fall & it was a complete failure.
I had a success rate of zero from the seeds I planted.
The seedlings I bought were were either uprooted(!)
or eaten by squirrels.
I know why the garden failed (sunlight, soil, water, critters, season – you know, essentially everything), &, yet, I found myself really surprised by the fact that I was hardly upset. The Lord met me in my failed garden. He answered my prayer! Not the way I’d had liked, but He grew me through my failure! Having a dead garden is hardly inspiring, but hearing whispers from the Lord that my garden wasn’t part of my identity? It was worth the failure to see that idol surrendered.
We planted our garden on the shady side of the house last year because we were having 6 trees cut down on the sunny side. When the trees were cut, the men laid the logs exactly where I wanted my garden to go. My husband is a busy man & has not had time to move 6 trees’ worth of logs to the upper part of our yard (or when he did have time, I’d much rather him have spent it with me because, well, he’s busy & time with him is precious). All of this to say – we were intending on moving the garden to the sunny side of the house, but never got around to it. (If you need fire wood, holler. We’ve got you covered.)
On a whim, I grabbed some seeds from Target one day. Only about $5 worth, & thought, if I plant them & they grow, wonderful. If not, it’s ok, because the garden isn’t placed perfectly.
When I started weeding the beds, I found that there was a plus to not moving the garden bed – some of the seeds I planted last fall are growing!! Namely, a carrot. 1. Whole. Carrot.
& lettuce, too! (There may have been more since I was weeding & pulled up a bunch before I realized the some of the weeds were crops. Whoops.)
I took this as a super great sign. Maybe last fall’s garden wasn’t a complete failure, after all!! I started planting my new seeds with great expectation, & with a jump in my step.
Well, there’s a certain little helper of mine…
who likes to be everywhere I am, & into everything I’m doing – including the garden. We have a raised garden bed, & from everything I’ve read about raised beds, you’re really not supposed to walk in them because it compacts the soil. Try telling that to an independent toddler.
It’s very shocking. Dirt? That can’t be messed with or stepped on? Yeah, he doesn’t think so.
The day I started planting my peas, he was helping, too. How did he help? He pulled up my ONE CARROT from last fall.
Not all the way out of the ground, but enough for me to see that it was actually, really, a carrot! Do you see that orange? Because I had already let go of the idea that this garden was actually going to yield food we were going to eat, seeing the little spot of orange absolutely brightened my day.
Also, I experienced a very unexpected gentleness with myself, not expecting everything to work. I let my baby get messy & step in the garden. I let him touch the plants, & when he pulled one up, it was really exciting to see a spot of color under all the dirt. & it helped me remember part of my dream is having a family garden – one my kids are comfortable with. I want them to remember gentleness & fun when they look back at our garden, not one they weren’t allowed to really understand or get into.
|The diaper, I know. He sat in a puddle & slid down a mud hill, all in the name of Fun.|
Also, they’re little, right? Especially the baby. He doesn’t understand soil compaction. He understands fun, though, & he’s teaching me all about it.
The Lord has helped me come to terms with the fact that this isn’t the season for our family to grow our own food, but He’s also helping me learn that it’s ok to try things without the expectation of perfect success. & the expectation of imperfect, I’m learning, is a really great, gentle place to be.
& little boys can go outside & explore without those pesky clothes getting in his way.
We left a rug out in the rain – for a while – & when we finally moved it so it could *ahem* dry out, we found a salamander hiding underneath! I had never seen a salamander before!
I’m learning that pictures don’t have to be perfect to convey emotions… like thrill & excitement.
Dirty feet can be really precious.
& climbing trees can be fun with flip flops & without shoes.
Not expecting perfection has really lightened my heart. When I asked the Lord to help me release my idol of a perfect garden, He – like He always does – has given me so much more. He’s helping me see that it’s ok to not expect perfection from myself, or my kids, or my husband. He’s also helping me see that when I do mess up, even in something small, like leaving a rug in the rain, or planting seeds too late, He still makes all things work together for our good.