I have a basket that I picked up for a dollar at a flea market and each summer I fill it with moss and plant flowers in it. This year I had an overabundance of purple, pink and blue impatiens so I planted them in the basket and put it in my flower garden in a sunny spot that needed some color.
Impatiens are a shade loving plant, however, and by the end of a week, they were looking frazzled. Despite watering, the leaves were turning yellow and the flowers had hardly bloomed. They were withering in the hot Georgia sun.
I moved it by the back steps under the cool shade of the magnolia tree and within a few days the flowers had perked up. They started growing and took on a rich hue. I think I heard them give a sigh of relief as they relaxed in their new spot.
Plants get stressed if they have too much of a good thing – too much sun, water or fertilizer can be just as bad as too little. The same is true of us—we all know that too much food, wine or sun can cause us problems. Even good things like exercise or being with friends can be overdone. Like my basket of impatiens, we need balance.
Lately I’ve felt out of balance with too much time at home. Even though I love my house and yard and yearned to spend more time there while I was working, this coronavirus has led to too long of a stretch without seeing something other than the beautiful view out my backyard. My usual summer trips to see family and friends in North Carolina have been put on hold and I will not get to run in the Peachtree on July 4th for the first time in fifteen years. The virus seems like a giant catalyst that keeps knocking out plans like an enormous set of dominoes.
Like everyone, I’m tired of it all. But since Keith and I are technically senior citizens, I can’t afford to be lax about social distancing. I have to keep asking God what he wants to teach me during this special time.
I was with a friend this week who is dealing with serious health, financial and family issues, yet always keeps a positive attitude. I mentioned that I felt bad to bring up any of my concerns around her and she said something profound. She said that each of us has our burdens to bear and that our problems are important to us. That was refreshing to hear, especially from someone who could easily have said, “You’re right, you have nothing to complain about!”
Let’s just put it out there — it’s okay to be feeling down occasionally these days. It’s a crazy time. But God is still there, and he has something to teach each of us.
This passage from James was read at my church’s service Sunday and caught my attention:
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4, CEB
This pandemic is definitely a test and it is like a college placement exam which goes on and on. In order to get through it, I need my faith to build up my endurance muscle. I need to listen for God to remind me what is important.
If I will allow God to work, James tells me that I will come out on the other side more mature and complete. And that is as important as a trip to the beach (maybe!).
Each time I pass the thriving basket of impatiens, I’m reminded to take a breather and let go of whatever is stressing me. I can rest in God’s grace and be thankful for all He has to offer me today.