Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Ivy Plant

Sometimes I wonder of I've grown at all. Ever feel that way? I'm not talking about growth revealed by a quick glance in the mirror; I don't wonder about that at all. I'm talking about inside; spiritually, in character - however you want to term it.

It's easy to feel like I struggle with the same old issues, battle the same old questions, fail at the same old temptations. How can I tell of I've grown at all?

Several months ago we stayed at my aunt's place. It is impossible to leave her house with only the things you carry in when you arrive. She is one of those special people who always has something to give you. Always.

She gave us more than one thing as we were leaving but the gift I'm thinking of was the plant. She gave two of them, actually. I got to talking about liking plants and how I had left mine in Arkansas when we moved and before I knew it I was picking two from her assortment.

I hesitated over the ivy plant, remembering my past experience with a beautiful ivy plant that got some kind of mites and died on me. She assured me that I should take it and showed me how she would snap a piece off and fill in the gaps as it grew.

I wouldn't say I have anything close to a green thumb. (You read about my hanging basket!) My usual method with houseplants is to water them faithfully for a couple of weeks when they're new and then water them whenever the thought crosses my mind thereafter. 

Some plants seem to thrive on that method and they make me look good - like the plant a dear lady from church gifted me at Charles' baby shower. I had mentioned to her about leaving my plants behind and she so kindly remembered and gave me one as a gift. That plant sits on my sewing cabinet and apparently likes the spot and the occassional watering method because it grows and flourishes profusely while we bump it and jostle it around and basically ignore it's existence.

But the ivy plant. The other day I was dusting and the ivy plant caught my attention. I knew I had taken a picture of it soon after I got it, so I went looking and was amazed to see the difference that a few months had made!

Sometime after I noticed the ivy plant, one day I felt prompted to give a little gift to a friend. I almost pushed it off because I was pretty sure she wouldn't be the one picking up her school children that day but I took a little time to cut the brown paper and string, tie a bow and write a note. It's not that I don't like to give gifts, don't get me wrong. It's just.... well, it's silly but here it is --

When you get to school you park in this long row of cars and in order to give the gift, very likely you will have to get out of your van and walk down that row and everybody will be looking at you!

All you sanguine souls will not understand this nor will the non-writers who look at my blog and assume the kind of person I must be but it's a very real thing, trust me. It's very closely linked to the thing that restrains me from inviting ladies over for tea and sends me flinching at the idea of company for Sunday lunch and squashes the idea of actually going and visiting the new mother who just had a baby but that's more info than you really need!

So, on my way to school I said a little prayer, something along the lines of, "God, if you want me to give this gift today please work this out for me." As I got there, I saw my friend's husband pull in just ahead of me. He drove to the end of the line and parked his truck behind our usual row of vehicles. I took a deep breath and looked at my son who had just fallen asleep. "Ok God, that's pretty clear," I said. I got out of my van and walked behind the row of eyes and handed over my little brown package.

It wasn't until later that night, when my friend's text came saying how much she loved the gift, that a light dawned in my mind. It was as if a gentle voice said, "See, you are growing. You heard my voice today, I'm working in your life. Like the plant, you may not notice the slow transforming from tiny seedling to flourishing, thriving plant but it's still happening even when you can't see it."

So, to any of you who are like me and wonder if you ever grow? Take heart, you are growing! Like the plant on my windowsill that gets very little attention yet quietly grows and flourishes, you are growing - little by little, day by day. God is so much more interested in what is happening in the quiet recesses of our hearts than in how many attention grabbing things we are accomplishing. Listen to His voice; do the little things. You are growing, you are growing.

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Phil 1:6 NLT


Carole said...

I felt the same way and mentioned it to my pastor several years ago. He said that he couldn't see his son grow either, but he needed bigger clothes quite often. It's the same way with us--we can't see ourselves grow, and maybe we shouldn't be thinking about it too much.

Miller scribe said...

I like this. And my issue with getting out of my van at school is I'm usually not dressed as classy as the other moms, my everyday clothes are... well, so everyday.

Rosina said...

Yes, I understand.

That's a precious story!

Bethany Eicher said...

You have a wise pastor!

Bethany Eicher said...

I'm with you there! ☺

Bethany Eicher said...

It's always nice to be understood ☺

Amy said...

Thank you for this, Bethany! I have often felt this way...Why do I keep struggling with the same things? Thank you for the message that we do grow! God bless you for sharing!

Lucinda J said...

This gave me the shivers. So encouraging. Thank you.