Okra

My heart was hurting

It was plainly obvious she didn’t like me.
Worse…
She couldn’t stand to be around me.

Geesh.
All the rush of all my childhood insignificance, unimportance and unwanted ”nesssss”… flooded my soul again.

And man, for the love of all things yummy (because that’s a big biggg category in my life) … I didn’t know exactly why.
I mean, if I back up the story, it started at the start. Like all stories do…At the beginning of our “relationship”… of our getting to know one another.
It started then.
Back when I hadn’t “done anything” yet.
I say yet, because let’s be honest. I’ve “done” things since.
I’ve gotten mouthy back. I’ve yanked when she pulled. I’ve watered the soil of “comparison”, fertilizing my side more. Grumbling to her moods and letting them set my own.
I’m not proud of this. But it happened.
I responded back with all the ferocity I felt she was giving me… and, I decided it was ok.
It wasn’t.
I mean, it really, really wasn’t. Like, Jesus was very unhappy about it and the Spirit, well , He left me pretty unsettled and the Father? Yeah… He was giving me all the prods.
That kind of “wasn’t”.
And because it wasn’t, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t like it either. I squirmed. I held my breathe. I said I was sorry in prayer. I stomped my proverbial toddler foot and crossed my arms and pouted.
What I had to do, was grow up in this scenario and do the right thing.
That meant, I had to march my prideful self into her presence and humble myself before this woman who I KNEW, would take it and use it as a weapon against me…oh, she was going to revel in my humility. But I had to. I had to tell her I was sorry. To please forgive me because that was not how I should have responded. It wasn’t how Jesus wanted me to respond.
Dang it.
It tasted bad. But not as bad as the grit I felt in my heart.

Ok Jesus.
Let’s do this.
I knew her response wouldn’t be grace.
But I had to do my part anyway. I had to act justly. I had to love mercy. I had to walk humbly with my God. And I had to extend grace.

Truth is, sometimes you have to say you’re sorry to people who don’t care.
Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness from a person who isn’t even sorry themselves.
Truth is, it sucks to suck it up like that…
Least… until you see it from the perspective of gardening.

What?
Gardening?

Yep. Gardening.

***************
It’s spring and on this homestead, it’s my favorite time of year… except for fall and harvest… LOL… That’s my favorite too! 😊 But Spring… gosh. It’s like shedding winter and putting on something new. It’s shaking off the dreary and the cold and the brittle and the bitter … and it’s getting a warm hug of sunshine, a bloom of life, a fresh wind of … Allergies? LOL … Whatever. It’s new life coming back to the land and with that, also comes the planning and planting the garden.
I adore our garden! Unlike most people, who select a patch of land, out of the way, and off to the side to till up and plot, we tuck our garden right up next to our porch. You have to walk through it to get to our front door and it welcomes you in with all it’s bumbles and pops of color and heirloom “fruits”… and lets be real, as well as with it’s imperfect overgrowth and pesky weeds. It’s a gathering of raised beds, all made from cedar, and surrounded with hardwood mulch paths that we try to tuck herbs and strawberries and marigolds into. I say “we” and “our” because the tending to it is happily split between my husband and I. When he has a moment to steal out of the shop for a breather or a relaxing of his mind from some heavy and weighty task at hand, he can walk out the door of the shop, stroll over to the garden just a few feet away, and spend a few minutes getting out of his head.
I can drive up after a long day at work, park next to it and spend the next 20 minutes slowly moving through it to my front door. Letting go of the office and coming “home”. Pulling a weed here, looking for a tomato horned worm there (the ravenous hateful critters) and gather what ever is ripe for the picking as I go… often planning our evening meals side dish around what I’ve gathered.

It’s a welcome respite. Not a chore. (well. Ok. On 100 degree days, when I’ve let some weeds go wild, it’s a chore… but mostly. It’s not.)
Rather,
It’s a tending.
It’s a caring.
It’s a nursing and a bent towards giving.
It’s a cultivating and a nurturing and a giant… giant.. Hoping.
There are stages of planning and managing and preparing and fertilizing and propagating and plowing and hoeing and laboring and ripening and harvesting and …

ok. It’s work. LOL

But it’s beautiful, worthy and rewarding work. And it grows fruit … not just that I can eat, but “fruit” that mends my soul.

************
Re enter, “her”.

I had to pull some weeds in my own heart, choking out the good fruit that wanted to grow.
I had to do some pruning back of my own retaliation and manage my own mouth.
And I had to fertilize the soil I had let get completely depleted of any nutrients, with my “sorry”.
Let’s be real. Nothing good was going to grow there.

I’ll call her “Okra”. Haha… sorry. It’s funny. I don’t like Okra. It’s yucky. It’s sticky and spiny and slimy and tastes like hay rolled in dirt. (just me?)

She, Okra, has edges too, that are spiny and sticky and she can be downright slimy if not dusted in “flour” and seasoned in all the right ways. Know what I’m saying? But friends…

She’s a part of my garden. And I need to tend to her and propagate and spread good seed around her.

Let’s be real tho, I don’t need to welcome Okra onto my plate… but I do need to make sure I’m not leaving that area of my garden untended. I need to be working my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether or not I like what’s planted there.

whew.

Let me say that again.
I need to be caring for my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether I like what’s planted there, or not.

MY tending, could just help produce , HER fruit.

whoa.

Can you imagine if I just neglected an area so close to my porch, the area others have to walk right up through to get to my front door, all because I was annoyed by something planted there?
It wouldn’t make for a very welcoming entrance or a very pleasing path to my home.

And, it doesn’t make for a very pretty or pleasing entrance to “me” either.

Let me tell you something about “Okra”.
Every time she reacted to me in a negative way, I decided I was going to turn that on her and plant a seed of grace.
She belittled something I did… I congratulated her on something else.
She found a wound to pick at, I let it bleed grace.
She scoffed at a story I shared, I shared one about her that I could find a sweetness too.
I wasn’t always perfect at this… there are days… but I found myself trying more and more, because
she’s in my “garden”.
And I know this…
EVERY time, you partner with Grace, you partner with GOD.
And He walks through my garden too… I need to remember that.

Oh, some days I let the weeds grow up in the “Okra” patch… and I get a little tired of the constant over growth and heavy, sweaty work … but more often now, I’ve found myself looking at it, at her, in a new way.
I’ve decided I may not like the taste of Okra, but friends…
have you ever seen an Okra plant blossom? It’s gorgeous. It’s so lovely.
There is beauty that is beyond the other flowers on my vegetable plants. It’s crazy. That spiny, sticky, pokey, slimy fruit… has beauty that far exceeds many other blooms in the garden.

So, I’m tending the flower. The fruit it produces is not my favorite, but it has a beauty that is unique, and I’m looking at that now and doing that thing that all gardeners do so well…

Hope.

Do you have an “Okra” in your life? Most of us do. There has been or there is someone… so, let me encourage you.
Tend to her like she’s the most beautiful flower in your garden and see what harvests.
I promise, even if “Okra” doesn’t change for you, your view of her
will change you.

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