When you express love with devotion and commitment, most of the time, that love will reflect back to you and give you the reward of that constancy. We could look at this with a meaningful and spiritual gauge, but for easy reading and simple analogy, let's take for example a plant. I'll offer a Hibiscus because that's the one sitting on my front porch. Two Hibiscuses actually - which I rescued from an orange cart in a home improvement garden center over four weeks ago. Two of the saddest, most rejected, dried up, and neglected plants ever. They didn't have a bloom on them and the green that made the poor thing look like a plant was dull. They survived in a drooped position, hanging over a cracked, black plastic pot with a yellow clearance sticker. Even the sticker seemed to have given up because it was smudged with potting soil leaking from the side of the container. It was late in the season, for Hibiscus, but I brought them home anyway and set to work on repotting them. Fresh soil, refreshing water and a sprinkle of plant food and gave me hope that they would eventually bloom happy in the morning sun.
For two weeks, I tended to these lovelies and couldn't wait to see their oversized vibrant blooms. But I got nothing. Not a single pop of color. I did see the tiniest of buds near the base of each twisted branch but the whole thing seemed stunted - conserving energy - staying green but nothing more. I miserly thought that all of my plants' gorgeous blooms were probably wasted on garden center shoppers who didn't notice their beauty. It's a ridiculous thought but there it is.
But I continued to tend and love and rearrange my Hibiscus plants. I made sure water and sunlight were in perfect proportion to what they needed. But nothing. Even though now they were green and lush and beautiful without blooms, I still wanted the reward.
The next week, my family and I left for our one beach vacation of the summer. It was a risk leaving the new plants and our thirsty yard for a week in the middle of an oppressive dry spell without water but I prayed for rain while we were gone. It rained at our house the first two days, but then three miserable record breaking 100 degree days followed. We came home around 11:00pm after a total of seven days passed when only the first two days had rain. As my family unloaded the car, bleary and exhausted and seeing their way with house floodlights and overhead garage lights, I climbed the five steps to our front porch and discover the withered and dying hibiscus. They were scorched by the sun. Their leaves burnt with brown sun spots and their branches sagging in defeat. One of the plants was lying on it's side, a strong wind must have knocked it over and I couldn't help but wonder how long it had been there. I set it back upright and pulled the garden hose up the steps, (cruelly only steps away from the dying plants) and turned on the nozzle. At 11:30pm, I watered these plants and felt sorry for them, and wondered if I could've tried harder to find a plant sitter. As I soaked them, I tried to cram a week's worth of care into something that needed daily attention. My daughter saw me from inside our house and flipped on the porch light. At that moment, I saw the thing that hurt my heart just a little. A shriveled, yellow bloom was lying on the front porch beside the potted plant. The Hibiscus must have bloomed while we were gone. I wasn't there to see it. Weeks of work before we left and the plant blooms when we're gone.
This got me to thinking about two things: The first and most obvious is that putting effort into something consistently will almost always pay off but you might not be the one to see the reward of it. And secondly, and the point I want to focus on here; is that you can't just put a little into something and then expect solid results. Especially if you pause that little bit of effort. Just like I watered and loved those plants for weeks before our vacation - I did in fact stop caring for them when I left and I missed the bloom. Also, the plants were weak and damaged by the time I got back.
It's the same with our relationships. It's the same with our work. It's the same with our passions. Left alone and ignored will not thrive. And in my case --- *writing* has been pushed to the side and neglected.
I tried to rationalize and make excuses that it was summer. And it's hot. And it's the lazy days of July where I enjoy family time and ice cream and trips to the pool. It's all the times I take evening walks by slow moving streams with the sounds of loud crickets and frogs barking their song. The air is thick and heavy. When there hasn't been a breeze since June and the only flicker of movement I noticed is a dragon fly balancing on the edge of a cattail. I can't possibly write when everything around me is stickier than oatmeal. Who can concentrate?
But they are only excuses. All of them. Spending time with the children is important and catching up on the stacks of reading, and doing the work that pays the bills. But then the heat. I let myself believe, I just can't. The routine was broken. It's an oversized pile of excuses to get out of the consistent pattern of writing. Which is unfortunate. I let myself down but today - August 1st - even though it's still hot - I am committing myself to writing again. I am rededicating myself to the craft. I am going to give writing the devotion and attention I know is in me, but has lain dormant for more than a month. It will take some time, patience and sometimes I will see a whole lot of nothing for results or readers but it will grow again. The gift God gave me will bloom if I give it the nurture it needs.
Oh - and by the way - the hibiscus that was near death after our week at the beach?
This sunny happy face rewarded me after four days of attention once we were back.
Give what you love attention - and almost every time it will answer you with the same.
Seeds to Share:
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.