Monday, March 31, 2014

Because He Deserves It!

            One of the most gorgeous days today.  In a long time.  It was in the 60’s and sunny with a nice, little breeze.  And so we took off school today to enjoy this wonderful blessing.  (We save our Spring Break days for the good days and work through the yucky ones.)  And so I had a chance to work in the garden: cleaning up weeds, planting onions, trimming dead rose branches.  (This last winter was brutal.  I had to cut all my roses down to the ground except my old-fashioned shrub roses: Therese Bugnet, Blanc Double de Coubert, and Rose de Rescht.  I’m praying that they all come back fine.)    
            But I’ve noticed something this spring.  After having a very depressed winter – struggling to adjust to this deep loneliness, accepting the fact that the book I wrote is going nowhere, and dealing with the fears that I’ll never do a “good enough” job in any area of my life – I had really hoped that I would find some joy in the garden. 

Gardening is usually my most delightful hobby.  It’s where I feel alive and at peace and closest to God.  But this year, as I began working in the garden, the joy just wasn’t there.  I wasn’t really looking forward to it or enjoying it like other years.  In fact, I already felt tired, the way I would feel at the end of the season when I’m ready to just be done with it all for awhile.  My goodness, if I can’t feel good about gardening then this depression has gone a lot deeper than I thought. 
            And so as I was digging through the onion bed to pull out weedy roots, I was thinking about all this.  I was trying to figure out what was sucking the joy out of my favorite hobby: 
            I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough in any area of life.  I fear letting the boys down with schooling, ruining their futures.  I can’t keep the house clean enough.  Nothing’s getting fixed around here.  All the time I spent writing that book is going to be wasted.  I just don’t feel like I’m doing a great job in anything.  I’m constantly struggling and failing in all these important areas.  But gardening is just a hobby.  Who really benefits from it other than us?  Is there any real eternal value in gardening?  Is it a waste to spend time on a garden that helps no one but us?  How selfish to spend time on something that I delight in, when I’m failing in other areas.  I guess I don’t find joy in it this year because I just don’t feel like I deserve to do anything for myself.  I don’t deserve to have this enjoyable hobby when I’m failing at so much.
            This is what was going through my mind.  But as soon as I said that I “didn’t deserve it,” another thought popped in my head.  It was as if God was responding, and it changed my outlook:
            “But I (God) deserve to be honored this way.  I deserve to be appreciated and glorified through your enjoyment of gardening.”
            I didn’t really “hear” God speaking to me.  I don’t know, maybe the Spirit did indeed speak it to my heart.  But as soon as it popped into my head, I knew that this is the way God would respond.  This was the right way to look at it, the godly perspective. 
            I had been so concerned with myself and how I “don’t deserve this or that because I can’t do everything perfectly” that it was sucking the joy out of my life.  But it’s not always about what I deserve or don’t deserve; it’s about what God deserves.  Whether or not I’m meeting my own unclear, constantly moving expectations, He still deserves to be honored.  He deserves to be delighted in.  And He is glorified when someone enjoys His creation, when someone takes the time to care for it, and when people appreciate it and thank Him for it.  And while we all have our own ways of doing this, gardening has always been one of mine. 
            Working in my garden is not just about what it does for me but what it does for Him.  And I think that what God wants is what any parent wants: to be needed, to be appreciated, to be thanked, to be obeyed, and to be sought after to spend time with Him.  And if gardening is my way of appreciating Him and being responsible for His creation, if it’s how I try to showcase and celebrate His goodness to us, and if it’s where I spend a lot of time talking to Him and finding things to be thankful for, then it’s time well spent.  Spending time enjoying God and spending time with God is always worth it!
            Whether or not we feel that we deserve the joys, delights, and blessings that God has given us, He deserves to be enjoyed, delighted in, and thanked for His blessings.  And we do this by appreciating them, by soaking them up, and letting them draw us closer to Him.  This truth freed me up a little to find the delight again in this hobby that I love so much.  Because it’s not just about me.  It’s my way of simply enjoying God!  And that’s a good enough reason to keep doing it. 
            As I smoothed out the dirt on the onion bed after digging out all the underground, creeping weed roots, I smiled and thought, This really is a good day!  Thank You, Lord, for this beautiful day, this beautiful soil, and the opportunity to take care of these wonderful plants that You have given us.  It really is an honor.  A joy!