Growth // the old stuff has to die to make room for the new

Growth // when something must die

After minimal "research" on air-cleaning plants, we recently stocked up on a few for our apartment. I'll actually share more of the details (what plants, what is "air-cleaning," where did we put them in our small space, etc.) later this month. Today, I'm focusing on something these plants are teaching me called growth.

As previously mentioned, there was very little (if any?) research done before this endeavor. You put 'em in dirt, water them, and watch 'em grow, right?

That's the general idea.

But of course each plant has its own specifics for sunlight, water, and soil. After a couple weeks we started to wonder. Are we watering them too much? Or too little? Does this brown tip or this fading flower mean anything? Is it even possible for a houseplant to get as much sunlight as this vague little label says it needs?

Needless to say we're (or, I'ma bit clueless.

We got a spray bottle to add a little moisture to their leaves in between watering. As I'm making my rounds to spritz each plant (we have one in each room), I comment to Daniel that we might be losing one.

Its large, previously lively leaves are now faint and droopy. The flower is keeling over, and I'm pretty sure the poor thing needs professional help STAT. In that brief moment of observation thoughts flash, with one general conclusion: We shouldn't have committed to all of these plants before doing our research.

Daniel looks over the now sad-looking plant, before concluding, "No, Trina, it's not dying."

I chuckle thinking he's sarcastically missing the obvious.

"Look, right here." He points to tiny little vibrant green leaves, freshly breaking through soil right along side those apparently dying. "The old stuff has to die to make room for the new."

I look closer and concede he must be right. The new growth seems to be evidence that the plant is getting its essentials. And the old leaves need to get out of the way.

It hits me right away, like most obvious life applications do, that this is exactly what God is doing in my life. There has been some tension in a few key areas, and I'll share a couple with you later this month. At first, I thought that tension must mean I'm doing something wrong. Then, I realized it's just the tension I've been awaiting for years.

I got baptized when I was 12. I know there's lots of debates on when kids are truly ready, and I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer. I wasn't in any way pressured into it, and knew as best as anyone could what I was signing up for. In fact, I was warned about what I was signing up for.

I was warned that Satan doesn't want us to follow Jesus and once we make that commitment he will test us and try us like he did to Jesus in the wilderness. I knew this going into it. And that happened to be my first thought once the baptism was over and my sister and I ran through the house to put on dry clothes: I wonder what temptations and trials I will face now.

A little melancholy? Yep, that's me. I wasn't upset about it, I just had been warned and was preparing myself.

But I quickly forgot about it. Because nothing major happened. No one close to me got cancer or died. And I didn't get cancer or die. I wasn't tempted to turn a stone into bread or asked to bow down to an image.

Instead, life went on as usual.

Well, as usual as my life could go.

I joined a puppet team with my mom, and gave my first sermon when I was 13. (Have I mentioned I'm terribly shy?) I completed 7th and 8th grade in the same year so I could join my brother and sister in academy. At 15, I went to Mongolia with a friend and her family and taught English to students twice my age. I got my G.E.D. at 16 and worked full-time in a real estate office, before heading to college, getting married, having a baby, and graduating with a Bachelors in English by the time I was 21.

You know, life as usual.

Of course, praying, reading my Bible, and attending church along the way.

Then, I started to make a real effort to meet Jesus. Not just, ho hum, here I am again.

But, bleeding woman trying to catch the edge of His coat just to be healed kind of meeting.

No, I wasn't on my death bed. Or any of those other "trials and temptations" I was sure Satan would meet me with once I committed to following Jesus. I was simply bleeding on the inside and looking for a Savior to save me.

It wasn't just one meeting. It was Bible and prayer and prayer journal as usual. But it was also one book that got me thinking, then another, and another, and another. Authors pointing me to Jesus. Not so much telling me how to live as saying, "Look, over there, that's Him. Go meet Him. Talk to Him. Follow Him. He will change your life and you'll never go back."

Yep, that's the meeting that's been happening between me and Jesus (via a few of His friends and followers) over the last couple years. It's been slow, but powerful and evident and life-changing.

Maybe no one else can see it from the outside, but He is rocking my inside to the core. And it won't be long before people will see and know that Jesus is my Lord.

the old stuff has to die to make room for the new

And, then, the growth thing.

Amongst all of this meeting Jesus, growth has been inevitable. Along with it, I'm starting to notice more obvious tension. Maybe it was always there before, but now it matters. And it's simple. Others would likely even brush it aside suggesting it's just not a big deal and not something worth making an issue over.

But it keeps coming up. It keeps being an issue. Until changes are being made. My life is changing and it just might not ever be the same again.

I'm hesitant, because at first, it's looking like death. Are you really calling me to give this up? I mean, I understand A, B, or C. But, this, really?

And I cling a little longer, because I don't want to be that person that jumps on board with unrealistic changes on a spiritual whim that fizzle out when I realize they weren't really for Jesus at all.

So I ask questions and pray and read and ask Him some more. And do you know what He does? He answers me by a simple gesture.

He pulls back those overgrown droopy leaves that I once thought were my life, and points to the tiny vibrant growth trying to break its way through.

And He says,

The old stuff must die so the new stuff can live.

So, with a gulp and a prayer, I'll be sharing some of this new growth with you this month. It's not immediately pretty, and some of it's been a downright challenge. But, I tell ya, I want to be a part of what He's growing!

And those old leaves need to get out of the way.