I love hydrangeas. They feel fluffy and soft and happy to me. I especially like pink and blue ones. I once lived in a townhouse that had a small front yard. I decided to plant hydrangea bushes – one pink and one blue. Imagine my surprise when I went to the plant nursery and they told me that the hydrangea bush could bear either pink blossoms or blue ones depending upon the acidity of the soil! If I wanted the flowers to be blue, I needed to amend the soil around that bush to lower the pH, and if I wanted them to be pink I needed to give them soil with a higher pH. But either way, I needed to make sure they had a good environment to live in with appropriate amounts of water and nutrients and light and space to grow.
Recently I was pondering how we are like hydrangea bushes. God created us perfectly. If our life isn’t pretty, it is not because we are basically flawed and need to be plucked up and cast into the fire. The environment we live in – both the external environment and the environment within our hearts and minds – has nurtured and produced the fruit and flowers we currently bear. Modifying that environment can change the way in which we blossom.
Just like we can pull the weeds that steal nutrients and water in our gardens, we may find that we need to eliminate certain things from the environment we live in. This may include certain influences that come from the media, certain beverages or foods that are bad for us or trigger us to eat in unhealthy ways, or anything non-essential that we turn to in moments of stress instead of turning to the Lord. We may even need to eliminate toxic relationships from our lives and learn to modify the way we relate to others in ways that will make the garden of our lives more beautiful and fragrant.
If we are planted in soil that is truly dry and barren, surrounded by weeds that greedily claim the little bit of water and nutrients available, we may struggle to bear any fruit or flowers at all. In such extreme cases we may need to actually transplant ourselves to a more hospitable garden – someplace where there is fertile ground and plenty of rain and people to tend the garden. Some people find that their old friends, neighborhoods and sometimes even family members are so unable to provide the caring and nurturing they need to bloom that it is impossible to improve their environment and they just need to leave it behind and find a new community. These people may need to cut ties to those who suck the life out of them even if it hurts. Fortunately this is not often required.
To blossom as fully as we possibly can, we can pull the weeds and nourish and amend the internal soil of our minds and hearts. We can eliminate activities and thoughts that drag us down. We can read scriptures, study program literature, write, pray, listen to uplifting music and associate with others who are on the same path to recovery. We can work the Steps with humility and do our best to learn from others who have overcome the same challenges we have and are willing to show us how they did it.
- How satisfied are you with your current crop of fruit and flowers?
- What can you do to improve both your internal and external environments?
- What are you willing to do today?
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