This year, I made a tentative foray into the world of gardening. By this I mean that I purchased a dozen vegetable plants and put them in pots on the sunniest side of my house. Ever since my fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was eight years old, I’ve been enchanted by the idea of working the soil to produce fruit. This year, I decided to begin.
Every morning, I head out to the side of my house to water my plants. I carefully examine their leaves for the lush tomatoes, shiny peppers, and smooth squash that I hope to find. And every morning, I go into my house disappointed. Nothing.
As a novice gardener, it’s easy to get discouraged. Where is the fruit (or vegetables, as it were)? What am I doing wrong?
My husband, who grew up spending his summers at his grandmother’s house working in her garden, smiles and shakes his head. “It’s too soon,” he tells me. “They’ll grow.” I know he’s right, but I get impatient. I can almost taste those sweet, juicy tomatoes. I want them now.
Sometimes I parent the same way I garden. I get up in the morning, eager to see the fruit of my labor, the fruit of love and training and correction and quality time and prayer, but my child is much the same as she was yesterday. And more frustratingly, I am much the same as I was yesterday. What am I doing wrong?
The beloved passage reminds us, “For everything there is a season…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (Eccl. 3:1-2) We know it, but we get impatient. We want to see our little ones make good decisions, be responsible, love the Lord, be wise, act obediently. We want our home to always be a place of peace and joy. We want to be content, and we want our children to do the same.
We see growth in ourselves and in them, but we wish it was faster and bigger. We are novice gardeners as we tend to the little souls the Lord has entrusted to us. We plant the seeds and we pour the water, but the results are not immediate and we become dispirited. We want to give up.
Mercifully, God is the experienced Gardener. He knows that growth does not happen overnight. It is a slow, steady, sometimes painstaking process. It involves faithful watering and sunshine, but also getting dirty and plucking up weeds. There is a harvest to be reaped, but only once the sowing and growing have been completed.
As mothers, we are blessed with the task of nurturing the little people in our homes. We are to teach, to love, to discipline, to correct, and to guide them as they grow up into the fruitful vines we pray the Lord will make them to be. But we must be patient as we do so, because our Gardener is patient with us. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
If He can be patient in His task, oughtn’t we to do the same? For as Galatians 6:9 exhorts us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
So let’s persevere in the long, dirty, fruitful work that is motherhood.