Re: Growth charts

Months ago I wrote about how plants are like people and the impact our environments have in our growth. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t follow up with the diversity in the ways in which plants grow, the varying ways we grow.

I’ve been joyfully growing different plants since that post in October. More recently experimenting growing red bell pepper seeds and an avocado seed from food scraps. Sustainability is something that I value, but we’ll dig into that later (yes, pun intended!) After a few weeks of nurturing my bell pepper seeds, I started to notice how fast certain seedlings were growing, while others held a much slower pace. And so, even if they came from the same bell pepper their growth charts were not equivalent, the ways they developed roots were not equivalent and the direction that they were growing were not equivalent. My avocado seed actually took more than 100 days to start a stem, and the root is much thicker in comparison to the roots found on a bell pepper seedling. I watered all of these plants the same way everyday, yet their outcomes are not totally the same. Why? I’m not going to pretend to know why because I don’t. Although, not knowing does not limit how much I can and want to take care of these plants. The uncertainty of their growth charts don’t dictate the love I want to shower them with and the joy I receive seeing them flourish at their own pace and at their own time. So why is it so hard for us to translate the same level of compassion with fellow human beings? One word: expectations. 

As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is… 

Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 35-36

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together shares a powerful message about what it means to live in community as Christians during a time of hatred and great division, a hopeful byproduct of experiencing Nazi Germany. Who would have thought there was such a thing? Nonetheless, I was humbly reminded by Bonhoeffer’s book while tending to my seedlings and feeling the frustrations of navigating through difficult relationship dynamics. To put it simply, I was reminded to meet people as they are as God meets me as I am, wherever they may be in their life journey. And yes, I recognize that this is easier said than done. But if I can’t make room to see humanity being reflected in front of me, how could I carry the same level of compassion I’m willing to pour over my plants? How could I connect with people meaningfully? How could I love people truly? We learn and grow in so many ways, because we are beautifully diverse in nature. 

Always,

K

P.S. Be brave, curious and kind. 

Re: Plants are like people

I grew up with different kinds of plants in our family’s house, backyard and front yard. Some plants were flowers, others were edible and a few were decorative (for the lack of a better word). My mom enjoyed planting different kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs, and she was really good at it. We used to spend a lot of time jarring tomatoes or freezing them at the end of the hot days of summer. Living on my own, I only just started to appreciate the joy I get watching my plants grow week after week. And yes, I do talk to them! A benefit COVID-19 brought us this year, I guess? 

Each plant species has its own optimal conditions to flourish. Some prefer shade, some like humid temperatures, while others enjoy consistent watering. Now, I have to admit that I’ve definitely killed a couple of succulents and one cactus because of overwatering. Thankfully, the internet has a plethora of gardening websites that continuously warns us from overwatering – the common plant executioner if you will. Another thing that overwatering seemed to attract are fungus flies/gnats. They thrive in consistently moistened soils and could breed hundreds, infecting sprouts and smaller plants. All of that reminds me of how similar plants are to people. This is not a new concept, and I’m sure someone else has written about this similarity more eloquently before. Although, the aspect that got my attention was how much our plants’ environment, our environment affects not just our growth but more importantly our roots. 

The integrity and strength of a virtuous wife transforms her husband into an honoured king. But the wife who disgraces her husband weakens the strength of his identity.

Proverbs 12:4 (Passions Translation)

After reading the book of Daniel, this proverb kept coming to mind. Daniel and his friends remained faithful to the God of their forefathers despite the long exile in Babylon. They didn’t succumb to the pressures of conforming to their oppressor’s beliefs and way of life. Steadfast and in joyful obedience. Life wasn’t picture perfect, being thrown in a lion’s den and in an earthly inferno could push someone over the edge, but they remained unshaken. Their friendship and faithfulness helped them remain true to their identity – their roots. The proverb specifically mentions a wife, but I imagine we can broaden this to the person or people we spend the most time with. After all, our environment doesn’t just consist of space but people too. 

Over the years I’ve had to re-evaluate friendships I was making versus those I’d like to sustain. Are we cultivating our internal gardens with friends that reflect/support our Christ centred values and welcoming dialogue from diverse perspectives? Or do we seek friendships for approval and validation? The proverb warns us to choose wisely. And truth be told, it’s not easy to make wise decisions when we are craving attention and acceptance. We want to fill the void – feel loved. But the choice does get easier when we allow our hearts to see that the only person that could ever fill that void already loves us unconditionally. God loves us in our worst with fungus gnats flying all around, and he continues to love us as we bloom into the unique flower he designed us to be.

Unlike plants we have the choice to create an environment to live in. We have the privilege to grow intentionally, not passively. We can intervene in the kind of fruits we produce. Question is – What are you rooted in? What are the fruits of your choices?

Always, 

K

P.S. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV translation)

Re: Bridge to freedom

woman standing under a bridge

When the city was just beginning to reopen again, a friend and I decided to go on a hike along one of the city’s urban trails. Lush aging trees and sprouting grass awakening from the spring season’s arrival enveloped the trail, while the ravine gently flows along the path. It was a trail underneath one of the busiest roads connecting the downtown core to suburbia. But the thing that I remember most are the ruins that were once part of an unknown structure. Pieces of concrete blocks scattered against the running water and around the beaten trail. Directly above it was a bridge. Though I couldn’t articulate it at first, it reminded me of a physical representation of how I experience healing. 

I started going to therapy about 4 years ago. I felt overwhelmed with a lot of transitions happening in different parts of my life. It was something that I felt I needed and something that continues to be a normal part of how I spend an hour of my life. During different seasons, sessions were more frequent than others and that was okay too. Therapy isn’t just what’s been depicted in pop culture. The practitioner may not even ask you, “And how do you feel about that?” Nonetheless, I’ve grown to see therapy similar to how you would use a shovel. When circumstances happen and you’re left with broken pieces, it’s the perfect time to create. The time to take out the shovel, dig deeper and lay down a more solid foundation. And you know what? Using broken concrete blocks is not a bad way to start because God has the power to pulverize the blocks into cement powder before transforming it with His living water into something far stronger than what it could ever be. Who we could ever be.  

Reading the book of Jeremiah can be disheartening between the prophecies of Babylonian conquest and the repeated stubbornness of the Israelites to follow their own judgment of what they saw was right. Idolatry, adultery, famine, slavery, imprisonment, and bloodshed continued for years. Even so, Jeremiah’s prophecies included God’s promise of restoration beyond all of the destruction. Truthfully, I kept asking why He continues to give us grace? We have been, and are stubborn hard-hearted people.  

Because despite our brokenness, imperfections, mistakes, and poor judgment, God sees us worthy of His love. 

We may not feel worthy right now, and some days I lose sight of it myself. But as children created from His image, we can find our worthiness in Him. We can always count on Him to accept us with open arms because He gave us a bridge to walk on through Jesus Christ. Although, that’s not a reason to run across the bridge back and forth, between His will and what we [society] think is right. As Christians, our path may not be linear or smooth. In fact, in more ways than one, we may live lives that are against the mainstream. And that’s okay because when we try our best to walk in step with the Spirit, the journey home will still be joyful and filled with gratitude.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5: 13, 14, 16-18, 22, 23 (NIV)

Always, 

K

P.S.

‘Frank! Frank!’ she cried in a voice that made the whole wood ring. ‘Look at me. Look at me. What are you doing with that great ugly doll? Let go of the chain. Send it away… ‘ Merriment danced in her eyes. She was sharing a joke with the Dwarf, right over the head of the Tragedian. Something not at all unlike a smile struggled to appear on the Dwarf’s face. For he was looking at her now. Her laughter was past his first defences. He was struggling hard to keep it out, but already with imperfect success…

The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis, pg. 126-127

Re: The toughest choices we make

I find trying to understand how and why we make decisions interesting. Having had the opportunity to work with clients in different industries, I’ve had to study the ways in which consumers make choices between car A versus car B or toothpaste A versus toothpaste B. We make choices every day from the mundane to the most significant. But often, the toughest choices we make are not about what to buy or where to get something. Often the toughest choices we make challenge our expectations, world views, intentions and motivations. Some of the toughest choices we are faced are:

  1. Choosing to trust when trust has been broken.
  2. Choosing to have and act on hope when circumstances seem bleak.
  3. Choosing to show compassion when reason can’t answer why. 
  4. Choosing to be faithful when life is abundant.
  5. Choosing to forgive when the pain is deep and difficult to forget. 
  6. Choosing to love when it’s easier to cast blame. 
  7. Choosing to pray when doubts continue to echo. 
  8. Choosing gratitude when life seems to fall short of expectations.
  9. Choosing to stay committed when possibilities and options are available. 
  10. Choosing to be kind when anger feels more natural. 
  11. Choosing to tell the whole truth when lying might seem to cause less pain or conflict. 
  12. Choosing to be courageous when fear and insecurities feel concrete. 

As free agents in this world, we have been given the gift of choice and with that comes great responsibilities. We do not know exactly how the future will turn out or how our choices can create a ripple effect, only God knows. So why do we often make decisions when faced with tough choices without consulting Him? Why do we lean on our limited understanding instead of seeking guidance to the one who created the universe, past, present and future? Why do we make judgements based on what we think is right instead of inviting His judgement to preside?

We don’t want to lose control. 

The book of Judges, like many books in the Old Testament, tells stories of God’s chosen people repeatedly turning away from Him, His statutes and commandments. And repeatedly we can read the disastrous outcomes people fall into because they chose to do what was right in their own eyes. Nonetheless, Heavenly Father’s gracious and compassionate character repeatedly saves them upon repentance, and gives them multiple chances to change their ways. He continues to do this with all of us today! I don’t know anything else more humbling than that.

As broken people, living in a broken world it is inevitable for us to make poor choices that not only impact our lives and those we love. We are accountable for those choices. We make mistakes. It’s the most human quality that we have. However, there’s beauty in brokenness when we set aside our will for His. There’s beauty in brokenness when we choose to put our hope in Him. There’s beauty in brokenness when we invite Him to lead us into becoming the victorious people He made us to be.   

Always, 

K

P.S. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago. Micah 7:18-20 (NIV)