Winter clean up of the garden was completed just before Christmas, thanks to two daughters freed from school for the holiday break. Together they tackled the chore of pulling out the last of the half-frozen and rotting plants. So many plants! It was another year of trying many different varieties in the garden. It is now good to rest for the winter season and reflect on what we learned. Seed catalogs have begun to arrive and the Midnight Gardener is already dreaming of the coming spring and which varieties we may grow again, and which tempting new offerings to try.
I have also been reflecting this winter season on the many variations and differences that exist among human beings. The varieties of people are plentiful and, I have realized, truly glorious. It has taken me a while to become accepting and compassionate of people’s differences. I feel God has helped me grow in this area over the past ten years.
How has He helped me grow? As I have been contemplating this question, I have received a clear answer–the growth in me has come from everyday experiences in my role as a mom. Watching and tending to the needs of my very unique and different little ones, and now not so little ones, has given me an everyday view of how brave and hard-working they have had to be in order to overcome some of their differences.
My children’s differences (particularly my youngest two) have been challenging and very painful for them and for us as their parents. These differences have caused them to struggle with loneliness, to battle academically, to endure near-constant appointments with professionals, to spend time in the principal’s office, and yes, sometimes just to suffer sadness. As I have helped them, they have helped me to find compassion for others who are different.
Now when I recognize differences in others, particularly children, I am much more capable of not judging their difficult behaviors or seeing them as “bad kids.” I can see some of their perspective, some underlying causes, and I now have some tools to help them and most certainly to love them more than I was capable of previously.
In the Bible, Paul teaches in Romans 8:13 that “‘For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Yesterday I was thinking about the word mortify (which means to subdue our natural human tendencies to judge people, children or their parents). In the place of judgement, valuing the other and feeling compassion for them expands our hearts, especially for children who may initially seem to be extremely annoying, perhaps almost unloveable.
I have witnessed adults and children alike who have this compassion within them and have given extra understanding, patience and love to my kids. These are people who have lifted my kids up and given them a sparkle of hope in their effort to fight their way through the challenges at the heart of what makes them different.
As we conclude 2017 and begin 2018, I am looking forward to continued growth for us all in finding compassion for every person we meet. In this garden that we call Earth, God has created people in great variety and I have found they each need our acceptance and love in order to reach their glorious human potential.