I’m not a farmer. I’m not a gardener. I tried being a plant mom, but after my plants hobbled along for a couple of years, I decided to focus on other things.
Despite my thumb being far from green, there are important lessons all of us can learn from plants.
Sowing good seeds
As it began to dawn on me that I would never have children of my own I essentially had two choices, two bags of seeds I could plant. I could reach into the bag that had seeds of jealously, bitterness, and resentment or I could reach into the bag that had seeds of love, joy, peace, and gratitude. In my disappointment, which would I choose to sow? “You always harvest what you plant.”
By God’s grace alone and in His strength, I chose (and have to choose daily) to sow seeds of love and gratitude. What did I harvest? The opportunity to fully embrace being “Aunt Valerie.” It is a harvest of joy and gratitude beyond what I could have ever imagined! No, I didn’t give birth to any of these kids, but that doesn’t put a limit on my ability to love them and build into them. The joy of reaping relationships that I treasure with these kids and their parents is truly one of the greatest blessings in my life. There are days I sow through tears of grief (you may too).
There are days I feel like I’m staring at dirt that isn’t showing any signs of harvest (you may too), but God promises “you always harvest what you plant.” Whether you are mom, grandma, aunt, stepmom–whatever “field” you find yourself in–reach into that bag of seeds and sow love, sow gratitude, sow joy today. Be proactive, make a phone call, write a note, send a text, say that word of encouragement and see what God does with that seed!
There are several points Valerie made that I want to point out.
You choose which seeds you’re sowing
“I essentially had two choices…I could reach into the bag that had seeds of jealously, bitterness, and resentment or I could reach into the bag that had seeds of love, joy, peace, and gratitude.”
You may not be able to control how you feel, but you can control your reaction. Last year my husband and I went to a church planting assessment, during which they talked about the connection between feelings, attitude, and behavior.
As the visual above shows:
- Attitude affects behavior and feelings.
- Feelings affect behavior and attitude.
- Behavior affects feelings and attitude.
So if you feel a certain way and want to choose to sow different seeds, change what you can control: your behavior and attitude.
Flipping Your Thinking
Instead of thinking “I have to do everything for my kids because they can’t do anything yet” or arguing with your husband about who changes the diaper blowout, you can choose to view the tasks as blessings:
- I get to help my kids learn how to do something new. You need to do it anyway and your kids will notice what seeds you’re planting based on your attitude and behavior.
- I get to spend one-on-one time with my baby or toddler as we’re face-to-face on the changing table. Think about how much more they’ll enjoy a parent that’s smiling and playing with them during the change rather than one that’s upset and angrily wiping up the mess.
God’s grace and strength
“By God’s grace alone and in His strength…”
I didn’t know what tired was until I had kids. Even when I get enough sleep (which I really don’t do regularly enough), the day-to-day of taking care of my kids, keeping the house in decent shape, feeding my family, and working full time is exhausting. I know I can’t do it all. And some days I feel like I can’t do any of it.
But I’ve noticed the days I carve out just a little bit of time to read my Bible and pray–or even on the chaotic days where I just ask Him for energy and strength–I feel like I’m able to function better. I still can’t do everything, but I find myself doing what I can with a much better attitude and a more joyful heart. By relying on His energy and strength, I’m sowing better seeds into the life of my family.
It’s a daily choice
“I chose (and have to choose daily) to sow seeds of love and gratitude.”
Choosing to sow good seeds is a choice you’ll need to keep making. It’s not a choice you make once and then you’re magically done. That’s not how life works. You need to keep at it. When you mess up, don’t dwell on it. Instead, look forward and keep pressing on with the good seed.
God will do amazing things
“It is a harvest of joy and gratitude beyond what I could have ever imagined!”
You may not be able to see what He’s doing in your life as you focus on sowing good seeds, but He’ll do things you don’t expect through them. Looking back at where I was pre-pandemic to now, I can see how much God has grown me through a series of small choices to keep coming back to Him and relying on Him–and that’s just in a year and a half! I’m excited to see how he continues to work through me and grow the seeds I’m sowing.
You’ll still experience hard feelings
“There are days I sow through tears of grief (you may too).”
Shifting your focus to sowing good seeds doesn’t mean you won’t experience pain, sadness, grief, or any other hard emotions. Feeling those emotions doesn’t mean you’re failing–it means you’re human. And it often means God is working in you.
You won’t always see progress
“There are days I feel like I’m staring at dirt that isn’t showing any signs of harvest (you may too).”
Sowing good seeds is a slow process. Going back to the plant analogy, after you plant the good seeds, you water it and give it sunlight. But it doesn’t grow immediately; it takes time.
Even as you change a diaper with joy and shift your attitude to, “I get to,” you won’t always see results. But you can rest assured that God is working. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
What what happens
“…see what God does with that seed!”
How will you choose to sow good seeds around you? The hardest, but most practical way that comes to mind to me is my family. How is my attitude with them? Am I choosing to sow good seeds throughout each day? Looking at the way I interact with my husband and kids…sometimes. It’s definitely an area for me to keep working on.
It extends beyond your family, too. Think about sowing good seeds with others around you: friends, coworkers, extended family, neighbors, restaurant servers, cashiers, etc. How can you encourage someone with some words of encouragement?
Seeds sowed by strangers
I wanted to tell two quick stories.
Preschooler at the Grocery Store
When my oldest was in preschool, we were at the grocery store and she was trying to get her way. So she started screaming, crying, and throwing a fit. I didn’t want to teach her she could get what she wanted by repeating that behavior, so I dragged her along behind me screaming as we finished shopping, checked out, and went out to the car. It’s amazing how much easier it was to handle the judgmental glares with just a few kind words like, “You’ve got this, Mom!” from a couple of strangers.
Toddler in a Restaurant
Another time when my daughter was two, she completely lost it at a restaurant. She was screaming, trying to knock water glasses over, and flailing around. I even took her outside a couple of times to try to calm her down while we waited for our food. We felt really bad for everyone seated near us, but we’d already ordered so we couldn’t just leave either. Once the food arrived she calmed down, but we were completely surprised when it was time to pay. A family that had already left paid for our meal. It was so thoughtful of them! It was a way of showing us that they understood, and it turned the experience from terrible to encouraging.
The point of these two examples? You can sow good seeds with complete strangers! I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of opportunities, but I’ve been thinking about those two stories a lot recently. One of my recent prayers has been to see ways I can encourage other parents–whether I know them personally or not.
What are some ways you can think of to sow good seeds with your family? What about those outside your family? If you have stories of ways others have encouraged you, or ways you’ve encouraged others, I’d love to hear them!