When we bought our home almost six years ago, one of the things that I loved was the yard with its cute little white picket fence and simple but pretty landscaping. During our first spring in the house, we were surprised almost daily by the flowers and plants that would pop up and beautify our outdoors.
My two favorites were easily the gorgeous coral-colored roses that flourished beneath and up to my kitchen window and the huge butterfly bush that took up at least a third of the space in the flower bed along our side back fence. They were beautiful! I could look out the kitchen window, past my lovely roses and the birds perched among them, and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds flitting around from one blossom to the next on that big butterfly bush. They were the crowning glory of our backyard, and I looked forward to their blooming every spring. *Happy sigh*
But then… Grrr. Two winters ago it got really cold. I mean, it does that here every winter, but this time it got really, really cold. Stupidly cold. Horribly, stupidly cold. And when spring came around, and all of God’s creation came back to life in a glorious display of color and sweet smells and amazingness, my fabulous roses and my ginormous butterfly bush did not. There were a few short, little offshoots that bloomed meekly at the base of both plants, but nothing like the grand display we were used to.
At first, I was hopeful that they were just slow in waking up, maybe pouting over the bitter winter that they’d endured.
Only they hadn’t endured. They’d died.
It took my sweet grandma visiting and point-blank telling me that my roses were dead for me to realize that they weren’t coming back – that and watching the sad, dry branches of my two favorite plants sit there, barren and ugly all season long, right through summer and far into fall.
It was just plain sad.
So this spring, once new growth started to show everywhere else, I had Hubby take the saw to the dead, brittle branches of my once-delightful butterfly bush and the thorny brown remains of my roses. Some parts didn’t even need to be cut, just shoved. The dead pieces cracked off clear down to the base.
When we were done, the backyard looked empty and bare. Looking out my window, I missed them, even as the dead plants they had been in the end. In the spot where my butterfly bush had reigned for years, there was only one skinny little green limb left standing. The roses fared better, with a remnant of maybe six or seven shoots to continue on this year.
I sent my mom a picture of the emptiness, and she replied, “If they still have life in them, they will grow really well.”
And I know she’s right. I knew that last year, when we first realized they weren’t going to make it, but I just didn’t want to let go of what they had been.
Silly, isn’t it, to hold onto something dead instead of embracing and nurturing the new life that is there? (Yeah, there’s a lesson here among brittle, breaking branches and fruitless limbs…God’s good like that.) How many times do we do that in life, and with much bigger issues than a plant in the backyard?
God wants us to grow, continuously. To become more and more like Him. To let go of the things that are fruitless, dead, and honestly, downright ugly. Of course, change is never totally fun. Letting go of something that was once great (or seemed great) is hard. But do we really want to allow it to take up a place in our life when there is something new and vibrant ready to grow in its place?
When we let God remove those decaying things from our life, you might think it will feel emptier, in a way, just like my backyard looks to me now. Loosing relationships, changing habits, sacrificing whatever God has asked – it WILL feel different than before. But that’s a good thing.
Sure my yard might look emptier, but it also looks healthier than it did, even somewhat larger. Everything that’s left is growing and green. And now I have hope for the future growth that will come where once all I could see was death and the past.
Isaiah 43:18 & 19 says, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Whatever God is calling you to let go of, do it. Make room for and embrace the new. Look forward with hope to what He wants to spring forth in your life.
From my window, a single thriving bloom is much more beautiful than an entire shrubbery of lifelessness.