Over the years Ray and I were married, I saw him pull up perfectly good plants to make way for the next season’s annuals. I was always a bit appalled since I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to waste anything. Yet he knew the next season’s plants needed time to establish their roots and get acclimated before the harsher temperatures of the upcoming season arrived, be they summer’s highs or winter’s lows.
As I’ve become more knowledgeable horticulturally, I’ve realized Ray was right and I try to get my cool-season annuals placed in their beds at a reasonable time even if it means pulling up still-blooming warm-season plants and vice versa. (I do, however, usually apologize to the plants I’m pulling up and thank them for providing so much enjoyment across their respective season.)
A wise friend recently pointed out that our strengths become weaknesses when pushed to their extremes. I’m loyal and dedicated, a consummate Golden Retriever for those of you familiar with Gary Smalley’s animal-based personality profiles. Just as I hesitate to remove still-flowering plants from my garden, I find it difficult to let go of people or situations, even when it would be best to do so – loyal and dedicated . . . to a fault. I’ve said on many occasions since losing my job four and a half years ago I’d still be sitting in my cube, working away, if God hadn’t made it abundantly clear that chapter of my life was over. And what an amazing adventure I would have missed had He not (lovingly) slammed that door and sent me on my way. After all, I went back to school to study horticulture and became a first-time grandmother within six months of losing my job. What a joyful, and somewhat humorous, combination of events!
Becoming gainfully unemployed is just one of many positive life-changing examples I can look back on. So you’d think I’d be better at letting go by now. Sadly, that’s not the case. Probably because letting go feels too much like giving up or losing. Plus there’s the fear of the unknown. Yet I firmly believe God always knows what’s next. He encourages us, saying, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19a) There are times when I’m so focused on the known and the now I can’t perceive anything beyond an underlying sense of disquiet beckoning me to move forward. Tentatively, I’ll let go with one hand while keeping a tight grip with the other. But God is able to do far more than I can ask or imagine so isn’t it likely I’ll need both hands to receive whatever it is He wants to give? Being a patient and compassionate Father, He works to loosen my grip and enable me to embrace His plan – His good and perfect plan.
Even though it’s only mid-August, a few leaves are starting to fall, early harbingers of the major leaf-drop to come in a couple of months . . . signaling another chapter, another season, reminding me letting go isn’t giving up or losing. It’s making way for the new.