In the heat of our Arizona Summer last year, I neglected my succulents on my front porch until they died, one by one. I finally purchased artificial succulents and stuck them in the soil.
There was just one little plant left, and it was barely hanging on. Maybe an inch in length, and I didn’t have the heart to pull it. Every now and then I’d water that one little plant – and each and every time, I would snicker to myself because it felt silly to water one tiny plant amidst the others. After all, would it even matter? No one knew it was real.
Before I knew it, this little plant started growing AND multiplying. It’s now full of moisture and life. Why? Because I fed it. Surrounded by the “fakes”, the only way you’d know it was real is if you snapped one of it’s branches. The inside would be gooey, and rich in moisture-producing life, while the surrounding plants would be a dead, rubber substance.
How often do we go through life dead … almost rubber-like? It makes me think of the rubber Gumbie figurine. You could bend him any way you wanted – similar to how we bend people today. We mold them into who we want them to be, who we think they should be, and before we know it, they’ve lost their identity. They’re just existing in this mold that we created for them. Maybe you’ve unknowingly done this to someone or been the victim of this yourself.
Yesterday, I met a young Gumbie at Walmart while buying some flowers for my patio. He was clearly miserable. He was impatient and grumpy with me for no apparent reason. (Shocker, right? I usually deserve it). I finally had enough, and told him he should be nicer to me because my dog had died the day before and I was looking for flowers in her memory. His demeanor changed and he immediately shared with me the loss of his dog, who he had loved his entire life. It broke his heart to lose her, and #boom, we shared a common bond.
As he was ringing up my purchases, his eyes were empty and he was clearly miserable. Before I realized my lips were moving, I said, “You don’t like your job, do you?” He looked at me, and with a surprised look replied, “Not at all”. He then started looking around, as if he was going to get in trouble if anyone heard him. I asked if money were no issue, what would he do with his life? What kind of job would he want? He told me he had no idea … that he had tried many things and nothing had “stuck”. He’s only 20 yrs. old.
At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “Julie, shut up … it’s not your business and he’s not your problem”. But the holy spirit kept prompting me to sow life into this young man – to feed the rubber-like substance he’d become. One second I was wanting to dismiss the prompting because I, too, felt like rubber after the 5-day journey of losing my dog, and the other second I was feeling grateful I was “alone” so no one could tell me to stop.
I told him that just because nothing had stuck “yet”, he needed to continue to search. He needed to keep going and figure out what his passion is, and then pursue it. He started shifting from foot to foot, with the biggest smile on his face. I wondered if anyone had ever told him he could follow his passion. Our conversation was cut short when another customer rolled up, but I assured him he has his whole life to figure it out.
I got in my car and realized just how blessed I am. I remember being in jobs where I watched the clock all day, feeling trapped in my cubicle. Though they are now distant memories, I realize I’ve taken for granted being in a community of like-minded people who love what they do. I’ve been in Direct Sales exclusively for 11 years now, and I’ve experienced more growth in this time than my life of 45 years previous.
Gallup reported that 85% of Americans admitted to hating their jobs. What this tells me is most Americans choose careers for the money – not because it excites or energizes them, let alone fuels their passion.
One succulent so eloquently represents the concept of “what we water grows”, which is why I’m choosing to leave the artificial ones right where they are. I want to be reminded each day it’s MY “choice” what I water. I want to water faith, gratitude, peace, love and joy.
What do YOU water each day?
Do you water your faith or fear? Your joys or sorrows? Your hope for the future or regret from the past? Your strengths or weaknesses?
My friend, at times I’ve watered all the wrong things. My fear has been paralyzing, my sorrow immense, my hope for the future shaken and my weakness palpable. I’ve felt hopeless in recent days and weeks…perhaps you have, too.
Jennifer Bonacorsi, owner of jBloom, reminded me over the weekend “The hardest storms are the place where we grow and become stronger. It never seems like it when it’s going on, but if we fight to get out of that storm, we see it later down the road”. She then sent me Jeremiah 29:11.
This FUELED me to push on. I thought back to all the times I’ve weathered a storm and come out stronger. I realize this season is a blessing in disguise. The key words here are SEASON and BLESSING. It won’t last forever but the gifts that flow will.
It’s one thing to admit we’ve watered the wrong things, it’s quite another to take action and move into a healthier space. I know how to do this because I’ve done it before. I heard a message a week ago that God doesn’t give us our peace until we take the proper steps in faith. I need to get off my ass, step up and step out. What about you?
Are you looking for peace in a situation? Perhaps a relationship? A job or your own home-based business? A desire to get healthier? A means to fight an addiction? A pattern of self-sabotaging behaviors?
Take one step today, in faith. Tomorrow take one more. Then keep stepping out until peace gently covers you. Maybe you need to pick up the phone to grow your business. Perhaps you need to forgive someone so you can move forward in a relationship. Could it be you need to stop complaining about your waistline and put down the fork? Or maybe you need to turn your excuses into your reasons WHY you should succeed. We all need to lose our stinkin’ thinkin’ and suck it up. This is real life, not the unicorn parade we pretend it to be.
Life sometimes sucks. It can be difficult and often HARD. If anyone promised you it it would easy, it’s time to invite them to lunch and slap them alongside the head.
With that said, just know God will use you in your brokenness, your sinfulness, your imperfections and greatest sorrows. Sadly, he often has to wait for us to come to him when our vessel is completely empty so we finally make room for him to work in our lives. When that day comes, no matter how you got there, never resist the “prompting” placed in your heart to fill others with hope.
Strive to have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand.
“Be brave, be kind, be bold, be fierce, be YOU”