I view my relationship with God much the way I imagine the relationship between a gardener and their beautiful garden. I say imagine, because honestly most of my life I’ve had a black thumb and couldn’t keep a cactus alive. Recently though, I’ve managed to care for a bamboo plant and an aloe plant. Much to my joy and amazement they’re both thriving. I see these plants as a direct representation of my growth with the LORD. The more I grow and thrive, the more my plants seem to as well.
Now, I’m assuming any good gardener would know something about pruning their flowers (I haven’t gotten to this stage with my own plants, and I probably should since the Aloe has multiplied and outgrown its home). As a glorious and blooming flower in God’s garden, I’ve been pruned on several occasions. Many of those times I didn’t even realize happened until much later. A few of them, however, were painful.
When I was in high school, I had my whole life planned out to the very last detail. There was no question in my mind about who I was, where I was going, and who I would be in the future.
Do I even need to say that God was in no way involved with these plans? No, I didn’t think so.
I joined the National Guard at seventeen with the intention of the U.S. government paying my way to a degree in Criminal Justice. I was going to be the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department, and I was going to make a difference in the world.
Fast forward a dozen or so years to this moment, and laugh with me.
Between the year 2000 and 2015 the LORD did some serious pruning to this little flower. Not only did the National Guard and I part ways early on, but so did my plans of being a homicide detective (let alone the youngest one). Not only did God cut away those plans, but he made a few more snips to dreams and experiences that at seventeen I hadn’t even thought of.
When I was in my early twenties my high school sweetheart and I divorced in a less than amicable fashion. Snip. Before I had time to truly come to grips with the knowledge that I had become a statistic, I was devastated by the loss of my son. Snip. This was a turning point in my life. A turning point that at the time looked like it was leading me down a dark and dangerous path. Snip. Snip.
People grieve in different ways. Some turn to God, some turn to counseling, and some turn to other more destructive means.
I was the latter.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:15-18
Looking back at my choices brings me powerful guilt and shame. It makes me wonder how God could ever have forgiven me, or for that matter how those choices shaped me into the person I am today.
The answer is easy to know, but not always easy to accept.
God loves me (and each and every one of you). All those painful moments, those late nights, those heartaches, and bad choices; the destructive actions, the selfishness and bitterness, the hate and anger, and the reveling in sin and discord those were little bits of me that needed to be snipped away so I could grow into a healthy, happy, and God-honoring woman.
“How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!'” Isaiah 30:19-22
I’m not a homicide detective, the U.S. government didn’t pay for my degree (in fact I’m not quite finished with my Journalism degree yet, and it’s likely I’ll be paying it off until my children graduate college), I don’t live in Los Angeles, nor do I have any desire to EVER live there, unless that is where the LORD sends me; and if I’m making a difference in the world it is through the raising of my children to be good people who love the LORD and help those who need help.
Every day God continues to prune me. Each day I grow a little brighter, a little healthier, and a little stronger, because the LORD is snipping away the old parts to make room for new growth. I am a beautiful flower in the LORD’s garden, and I wouldn’t wish it any other way.
In what ways has God shaped you?
May the LORD bless you,