I want to be like my neighbor. She is a masterful gardener. This week we plan to make our annual trek to our favorite nursery. Every year I pick out a few new plants. Besides providing inspiration, she tells me when to add plant food and reminds me when I forget to water.
While one-third of her yard is covered in blooms, one-third of mine is dominated by brush and excessive ivy—including the poison kind. While a bit of ivy can be beautiful, mine is more of a pernicious snake haven.
It seems in my yard and in my life I’ve developed a knack for ignoring the overgrown parts. I don’t mind pulling the random weeds that show up around the azaleas and iris out front. However, the deeper work takes me a lot longer to face up to.
When I began following Christ, there was popular song about giving all to Jesus. As an eleven-year-old, I thought I checked that box. I not only put my faith in Christ—I surrendered all. Done! I thought I could move on from there in steady growth. I didn’t anticipate all the ways I would be broken by the brokenness of the world, the brokenness of those around me, and the brokenness of my own sin. Looking back, I see that surrender is an ongoing process and no one escapes getting broken.
Last week I went back to the counselor I’m seeing. She asked a lot of questions about my fears. As I answered, I began to see that I don’t have a few random weeds of worry, I have whole acres of anxiety I have worked hard to hide—even from myself.
My counselor knew from our previous talk that my dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia was not understood or addressed until I was failing college. I was a bit baffled when she brought up my nonstandard-learner struggles as we were discussing my anxiety. She graciously connected the dots by asking how often my fear is linked to all the ways my brain doesn’t work for me.
Talk about an ah-ha moment. My executive functioning failures not only made school traumatic, they dog my attempts at running a business. I find myself trying to overcompensate for what feels like never-ending deficits.
My therapist said that owning my brain is a lot like owning a car that drives differently. Sometimes the motor won’t start. Other times it takes off while I’m still trying to get in. Even after decades of studying brain development— there are times my car is still inexplicable.
As I was grasping the major aspects of my fear, I ask—“What do I DO?” I get it with landscaping. Since I own my yard, I can attack the brush and ivy with enthusiasm and yard tools. (I tend to make up with enthusiasm what I lack in skill.)
However, it’s different with my heart because the tending of me is the responsibility of the One who took over as Owner back when I was 11.
My counselor gave me three things to focus on—
1—God is in charge of this process.
2—This is a process—not a series of tasks.
3—Vulnerability is helpful when the environment and people are safe.
As I’ve meditated on those three anchor truths, I’ve realized—
1—God is exactly the Gardener I want in charge of removing my fears and growing my faith. He is extremely skilled both as a Gardener and as the Sovereign in charge.
2—The process of change is a lot like the process of gardening. Plants don’t grow because the gardener pours on all the water needed in one shot. It takes time to prepare soil, plant, water, wait, prune, weed—then do all that again on the next area to be tended.
3—Vulnerability means I can stop acting like I have my act together and open up the areas I’ve closed off. At least, I can do that where it’s safe. Safe is tricky. Feeling unsafe is a bit of a habit even where there is no threat.
I’m glad God is gentle as He continues to clear away the places where anxiety has taken root. I’m rather excited to see what He has planned as He continues to grow my confidence in Him.
I’m curious. What anchor truths does God have you focused on this week? How are those truths helping grow your faith?