By Lindsay Hufford
“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in the dirt, covered in darkness, and struggle to reach the light.”~Sandra Kring
I greeted the deliveryman with a smile as the rectangular package passed from his hands to mine. I had not ordered anything recently, and the pre-Christmas package flood from out-of-town relatives had ceased a few weeks prior.
I set the box on my kitchen counter and opened it to see what surprise lay inside. Reaching in, I pulled out a cold, glass vase filled with a bag and a card. The package, from a college friend, contained an amaryllis bulb to bring some color to our drab winter days.
The gift included the vase, bulb, and a growth medium of pebbles made from recycled glass. The novelty was that you could see the growth below the surface as the roots wove around the pebbles. I nestled the bulb in the pebbles as the directions recommended, added water, and looked forward to seeing this new life grow.
A week passed, and I saw no signs of growth from the little bulb. I re-read the instructions to be sure I hadn’t skipped a step, but I had followed them exactly. Another week, and still no roots had sprung from the bulb. By the third week, a puffy layer of mold had begun to enshroud the base of the bulb.
I lamented to my husband about the lack of growth. “It must be a dud,” I said, preparing to throw out the bulb and store the vase until it could hold summer wildflowers from our yard. He stopped me.
“Why don’t you try planting the bulb in some dirt?” he suggested. “I have potting soil in the barn.”
I wiped the mold off the bulb’s and emptied the glass growth medium into the trash. My hands cupped the fertile soil in the bag and filled the vase, making a small space for the bulb and covering all but the very top.
A few days later growth appeared. The leafy shoots grew a little more each day. In the same amount of time we had waited for the bulb to take root in the artificial medium, we witnessed leaves and stalk growing at an exponential rate, finally ending with a closed blossom.
The morning we woke to find the beautiful red petals unfurled, we all marveled at the beauty growing behind a sinkful of dishes. The plant thrived throughout that winter, flowering several times, leaves growing green for months, and even producing a seedpod.
The bulb was fine. It just needed soil in which to grow.
We want our lives to be like the claims of the plant packaging: staggering growth visible without a speck of dirt.
We don’t want the heartache of a sick child in the hospital, worried we could lose our baby—and possibly our faith—with each alarm of the monitor. Our hearts fall in seasons of marriage that are dry and hard like parched earth, wherein we struggle just to smile at each other. We want relationships clean and sparkling like glass pebbles, not like soil filled with the sticks of misunderstanding and the insects of sin.
There’s only one problem: growth happens in the dirt, in the hard places, in the heartache.
The lyrics of a favorite song, “I Have Made Mistakes” by the Oh Hellos, remind me of this truth: “The sun it does not cause us to grow. It is the rain that will strengthen, the rain that will strengthen your soul. It will make you whole.”
The hardest parts of my life have caused the most growth in my faith. Jesus tells us our way will have troubles (John 16:33). He uses the dirt of life to grow us into beautiful flowers basking in the light of his presence. I am made whole, becoming who I was designed to be, by struggling through the dirt in my life and in trusting the gardener. The best gardeners know soil quality is one of the most important factors in the success of a planting. Jesus is faithfully tending to me, placing me in rich soil where I will grow and thrive.
Lindsay is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to three kids. Whether she is reading, running, gardening, teaching, cooking, dancing, writing, or chasing hens, she counts it all as joy. Lindsay writes about this beautiful life at searchforthesimple.com.
Photograph © Annie Spratt, used with permission