by Emily Conrad
To save the plant from certain death, I asked my mom to keep it inside.
I don’t remember how I obtained the plant to give to my mom. Did we grow them from seed at school? Did the teacher give them to us, and our only task was to plant the already-growing impatient? I don’t know, but I do remember that I hated the thought of the plant’s life ending after the summer.
Mom gave in to my pleas and set the plant in its peat pot on the window sill above the sink. After a year, I could see my mistake.
The impatient had grown gangly, with few leaves and no flowers. The plant was intended for sunlight and for rain and for space to spread its roots. By keeping it sheltered indoors, I’d blocked it from doing what it was meant to do.
I asked Mom if she’d transplant it outside, where it should’ve been from the start. Honestly, I don’t remember how that turned out. Out of sight, out of the mind of a child, I guess.
Except that for some reason, I thought of that plant again this morning.
I thought about the things I hurt in the name of sheltering them:
Talent. No matter how long I work at something, even in an area where I seem to have some natural talent, I can always learn more. If I fail to get feedback because I don’t want to be discouraged by my imperfections, my talent suffers. Imagine a boss or a teacher who never gave a student correction. How would they learn? Good feedback helps us grow in the right direction.
Career. If I hold back from presenting myself or my work to the world in fear of rejection, my career will wilt. Does it hurt when I’m turned down? You bet. But I wouldn’t have gotten the acceptances or job offers I have gotten without taking the risk. We have to put ourselves out there if we’re to flourish in the workplace.
Faith. Jesus promised trials to His followers, yet we have to choose again and again, in each situation, to follow Him. To do what’s right. We can choose the supposed shelter of the “safe” route that will take us further from Him, or we can plant our faith wholeheartedly in Him and watch it bloom.
Recognizing my tendency to shelter these things and acknowledging the resulting potential for harm, helps embolden me to live as I ought, trusting that Jesus is enough, come what may in the big, wide world.
And what about sin? This one’s different from the others. Opposite the flower, sin thrives in secret and darkness–we only hurt ourselves when we shelter sin in fortresses of pride. When we expose our wrongs to the light, letting others see the struggle, we suddenly have accountability. God shows us our behavior for what it is and calls us to repentance and restoration. This feels like risky business, but the process is for our good.
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 NET
Like that little flower, we have one life to live on earth, and after that, as followers of Christ, the promise of eternity with Him. Given such a great hope as this, let us not cower in dim man-made shelters. We’re called to walk in the light.
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