I was spiraling into worry and self-doubt.
Almost a month earlier, I had decided I was finally ready (enough) to share my first blog post on Facebook. I received lots of encouraging feedback and gained some new email subscribers. I was so pleased!
Then we went on vacation, returned from vacation, and tried to reacclimate after vacation.
Before I knew it, nearly an entire month had gone by and I hadn't posted a thing. I was completely botching blogging rule #1: be consistent. Why did I ever think I could keep up with a blog anyway? Was this all a horrible mistake?
Like I said: spiraling.
I sent out a message to my HopeCircle. If anyone would understand, it would be this small group of writer friends.
Sure enough, within 5 minutes, prayers were sent up on my behalf and words of truth came rolling my way. These dear friends empathized, encouraged, and pointed me back to Jesus and the security of my identity in Him.
There was one statement in particular that struck a chord right in the center of that moment. Mary Kathryn said, "This is the beauty of small beginnings! You have the freedom to post when you can and let it go when you cannot! It will grow! There is room for grace."
It will grow. There is room for grace.
What are your growing things right now?
Mine are a blog, a copyediting business, and two rambunctious boys. These are Intertwined with a desire to connect more intentionally with those around me.
They are growing things.
They need to be nurtured, certainly, but they can’t be forced.
As I’ve mulled this over in the time since then, the metaphor has continued to expand in my mind.
Growing things need light.
As I’ve written about before, my natural tendency is to try to learn everything in secret so my beginner status will never show.
Just yesterday, I heard some experts talk about the value in not announcing when you decide to start something new. I immediately second-guessed myself: “Oh no! I knew I shouldn’t have told people yet!” But then I reminded myself that the winding road of my freelance editing journey started six years ago, and I’ve been slowly but surely working on this blog for six months. I’ve passed the underground phase. If I want these things to grow, I have to keep allowing new leaves to push out into the world where people can see them.
What about you? Are you ready to start soaking up the sun, or do you still have work to do underground? Both are good. The out-of-sight work is real and valuable; just remember that the time will come to let your first leaf unfurl into the light.
Growing things need room.
My dad is a botanist who loves native plants. For decades now, he’s been making neighbors scratch their heads as he refuses to mow over interesting plants that pop up in his yard.
I once asked him what exactly makes a plant a weed. He said it’s simply anything growing where you don’t want it. One man’s weed is another man’s wildflower.
The process of identifying the weeds in our lives is often just as subjective. As we look to make room for our growing things, it’s (relatively) easy to pluck out the obvious wastes of time, but what about those items on our calendars that really are good things? Why would we stop doing those?
Because the good may crowd out the best.
Are some of the good things on your schedule no longer the best uses of your time?
Or maybe there are things you can’t remove completely (oh hey, dirty dishes and laundry), but you could move them to a better place in your schedule.
This is a big one for me right now. Uninterrupted time is my most valuable resource, so I’m working to follow some great advice I heard recently: don’t do anything alone that you could do with kids around (Hope*Writers Podcast, Episode 01-07).
It may be easier to do laundry without my kids trying to pillage the utility room, but it is possible to get the washer started with them around. It’s not possible to sit down and write or edit during those times. So I need to diligently guard that time.
As you’re working to cultivate the growing things in your life, what can you weed out or rearrange to make room for what you want to grow?
Growing things can’t be forced.
And here we are, back at the beginning. Whether you’re growing a garden or a new project, there’s a lot of work to do. That work supports and nurtures the growth—but the results are ultimately out of your control. You can have influence, for sure, but the actual growth isn’t something you can force.
This could feel frustrating, but when I shift my perspective from one of anxious striving to that of patiently cultivating, I find something beautiful in the required submission to the process, the dependence on something—more accurately, Someone—outside of myself.
The same friend I mentioned earlier, Mary Kathryn, posted something on Instagram that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
On July 30, she gave a snapshot of the way that life in her small ranching community revolves around rain. Then she wrote, “What has struck me about this rain-dependent micro-economy is how little control we have over it. There is not one thing we can do to make it rain. We are solely dependent on God to provide it.”
Hard work is essential, but when I remember that the growth can’t be forced, it releases me from the anxiety-driven wheel spinning of thinking it’s all up to me.
All this is still a work in progress for me. On plenty of days, I want to give up on this kind of growth. Allowing these tender new leaves of myself and my thoughts out into the world feels too risky.
But then I think about how much I’ve learned from and been encouraged by people who were willing to share their stories, insight, and expertise with me.
If my words and work—my growing things—can have an impact on even one person’s life, isn’t it worth it?
How about you? How are you balancing the work and the waiting of your growing things? Is there one of these areas that especially resonates with you right now?
I’d love to hear from you!