A couple of weeks ago, I bought a rose bush. I watched a few YouTube videos on planting rose bushes, read the tag hanging from the plant, and did a little more internet research, and it seemed easy enough. So after much internal debate, I took the plunge and purchased one.
I dug a large round hole, carefully placed pebbles in the bottom to help irrigate it, handled the plant with the utmost care, and planted it with compost, fertilizer, and rich soil. Within two days, to my dismay, it was dying. Every bud and flower on this once thriving rose bush turned brown, shriveled up, died, and fell off. The leaves even turned brown. I couldn’t believe it.
It seemed so easy. Everywhere I go, I see these massive rose bushes growing fervently in landscaping. Even the Sheetz near our home has a number of bountiful rose bushes growing, and they’re so beautiful! So I visited our local garden center and did even more research. It turns out the fertilizer that I used was too salty, and it was killing it. The solution? Water it like crazy.
This got me thinking about the things that we cultivate. Merriam-Webster defines cultivate as to foster the growth of or to improve by labor, care, or study. So what kind of things can we cultivate? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness or on the opposite side of things, anger, bitterness, comparison, jealousy, lust, and even discontentment.
We have so much at our fingertips. It’s important that we are mindful about what we are consuming. If we are constantly comparing what’s on our screens to our real life, what are we fostering? Discontentment? Bitterness? Jealousy? Lust?
If we are constantly critiquing what others are doing in their lives, parenting, marriages, careers, etc., what are we fostering? Bitterness? Anger? Self-righteousness?
If we are constantly complaining about our children, friends, or spouses, are we cultivating love? Is that Love? Is that Kindness? Goodness? Gentleness?
The things we are cultivating show up in our everyday lives. Our language, our speech to one another, a response to a colleague, treatment or mistreatment of our spouses or children, our physical bodies in terms of health and wellbeing, and even our very own contentment reveal what we are cultivating. It’s important for us to have an awareness of self: How are we treating others? How are we talking to our significant other? How are we treating our children? Are we engaged in life or zoned out on our phones or screens? These are all temperature checks for us. If it’s too hot or too cold, change it. Ask God to give you His wisdom, His discernment, and His strength to make a change, and then water it out like crazy. As I reflect on this word cultivate, it has me thinking about intentionality. We have to be intentional about watering ourselves with things that are good: Scripture, prayer, communion with others. This thought has brought me here: A prayer challenge. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been praying the fruit of the Spirit over my life and also over my family.
Will you join me over the next week in praying the fruit of the Spirit over your people and your life? I’ve attached some freebies that you can screenshot or save to your phone as a physical reminder. These kind of things help me stay focused on the goal.
Also, I’m happy to report that my rose bush is now thriving and beautiful, and you can bet that I won’t make the same mistake with salty fertilizer again!