time for a change
I don’t have much of a green thumb. I never have. I do best with plants like philodendrons, peace lilies, and aloe plants. So, when my friend gave me an aloe plant on my birthday a year ago, I thought, Great! I should be able to keep this alive! I put it in just the right spot so that it would get some sun—but not too much—and I watered it about once every week or two as suggested. It did great for a long time, and then I began to notice that it seemed to be struggling. I tried watering it more often, but that didn’t help. Next, I trimmed back some of the places on its leaves where it was drying up and turning brown, but that did nothing except make it look even sadder. Then one day my daughter Brenna said matter-of-factly, “You need to transplant your aloe plant to a bigger pot.” (Both of my daughters have incredibly green thumbs, by the way.)
The truth is, I had briefly considered that, but I didn’t want to do it because, well, I liked the pot the plant was in. I thought it was cute and clever, having the phrase “Aloe-ha” written across the front. Whenever it caught my eye, it made me smile, and it also reminded me of the friend who had given it to me. So, I decided to keep the aloe plant in the cute pot, and it continued to dry up.
But now, every time I saw the plant, I heard these words in my mind: just replant it. Before long, I realized that I was thinking about it differently. Instead of focusing on the fact that the pot is cute and clever, I began to focus on the reality that my plant needed a larger pot so that its roots could grow. As much as I liked it, the pot it was in was no longer the right environment for the plant to grow and thrive.
So, I found an empty pot I already had and repotted my plant—a temporary move, I told myself, until I can find another cute pot for it. To my amazement, within just a few days the leaves went from thin and brown to thick and green; and within two weeks it had nearly doubled in size! That’s when I began to hear God speaking gently and lovingly to my heart: You know, you’re not so different than this aloe plant….
It’s true. How often have I resisted a needed change in my life because I didn’t want to let go of something? I thought of numerous times when, whether it was because of familiarity or my own short-sighted preference, I just couldn’t imagine giving up whatever I thought I needed in order to make a change—one that ultimately would bring a much greater benefit. And so, I resisted. Can you relate?
When it comes to our well-being—the heath of our bodies, minds, and souls—sometimes change is what we desperately need. In fact, sometimes the only way for us to thrive is to “replant ourselves,” moving out of the old environment into a new one that gives us the room we need to grow. For some of us, that might mean considering a literal change in our environment, such as moving, changing jobs, or taking a vacation, retreat, or sabbatical. A change in our physical surroundings or daily schedules and routines can play a major role in helping us to “reset” and find the space and soul nourishment we so desperately need. For others of us, a new environment might simply mean changing our habits, attitudes, or responses—such as the practices that help us find comfort and peace, the mental tapes we listen to on repeat, or the choices we make in response to our feelings.
Sometimes the only way for us to thrive is to "replant ourselves"...
This pandemic and all of the turmoil we’re experiencing this year has been hard, and many of us are struggling. Like my aloe plant, perhaps what we need is to replant ourselves. Often it’s during the dry, difficult seasons when we become aware that change is needed—that the old is no longer working for us and we need to be open to embracing something new. Here’s an important caveat: making a major life change during a time of grief or crisis is not recommended—unless, of course, it cannot be avoided. However, it’s always advisable to listen for and be open to God’s invitations, which lead us gently toward the changes that are needed in each season. (A spiritual director can be a helpful companion in that discernment process.)
So, what changes is God inviting you to embrace at this time? Are you willing to stretch beyond what is familiar in order to try something new that promises renewed life and growth? What kind of “replanting” might help you to find the nourishment you need for your body, mind, and soul? It’s my hope that you will join me in reflecting on these questions and listening attentively for how God is leading in this season. One thing we can be sure of: replanting always leads to health and growth!
They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers — Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season. (Jeremiah 17:8, The Message)
Hi, I'm Sally!
I'm passionate about connecting with God and connecting with people, offering spiritual encouragement and companionship. I'm so grateful to be on the journey with you as we walk with God together.