Jen’s Gem: Every day is an opportunity to learn.
Yesterday, like many people in my neighborhood, I began my spring lawn cleanup. Motivated by the gorgeous weather and an uncanny good night’s sleep, I raced to my shed for my trusty gloves and rake. I had two bags of mulch left over from last year so I began by spreading it in my flower beds.
Spoiler alert: two bags of mulch doesn’t go very far.
Rather than lament my half-mulched shrubbery, I moved on to the arduous task of raking up my lawn. Within minutes, I could feel my muscles begin to ache. Minutes. However, I pushed on. With each pull of the wire rake, the task became harder and harder. Millions of thoughts ran through my mind. Here are just a few:
- Why do I own a house?
- Why is grass so thick?
- Why isn’t Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson here to help me?
The rest of the questions fall under the category of a pity party and I’ll not share those. Suffice it to say, I found myself lamenting my entire existence on the planet until a few light bulbs went off.
As I made my way around my postage-stamp sized lawn, analogy after analogy to my years-long spiritual journey came to my mind. Lessons and insights were popping up so quickly, I had to stop every once in a while and contemplate them. (Ok. Ok. Fine – they were water and rest breaks!)
I’d like to share a few of these with you:
- I began my spring cleanup (spiritual seeking) with a motivation so strong that I couldn’t wait to dive in. I wanted to do everything in one day. It was overwhelming and my physical body could not keep up. I realized I’d have to pace myself or I’d burn out quickly.
- With each pull of the rake (discovery of a fault), I wanted to dig deep to release all of the buried debris, freeing the lawn to replenish itself. It became impossible after only an hour. I realized that I could not erase a year’s (lifetime’s?) worth of muck and mire all at once. It would serve me better to uncover a bit at a time, dealing with each as it came along.
- About halfway through the task, my daughter and her friend brought home lunch…and a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee! You’d think I just won lotto. My heart leapt! Hidden in the painfulness of hard work, there was a little gift, making it all worthwhile.
- The lure to quit was relentless. When I would finish one section, I’d hear a voice telling me to finish another day. I’d hear that I’m too old and out of shape to do this task. I’d also hear that I was doing too much – that I didn’t have to do my best. Mediocrity was acceptable. Mediocrity is not in my DNA.
These insights are just the tip of the iceberg. I wished I’d had my phone on me so that I could’ve recorded all of the lessons that were being thrust my way. Even as I write this post, there’s more I want to share. Perhaps the unrecorded items will appear in a future post.
Here’s the bottom line. This morning I sit here with blistered hands and aching muscles. However, when I look out to my front lawn, I see my reward. I see a clean lawn, ready to spring forth whenever this crazy northeast weather decides to become a bit more spring-like. I’m satisfied with the work I’ve done but there’s more to do. Isn’t there always more to do?
Years ago when I began to study the Bible, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I wanted to read it all in one day. I wanted to learn the stories of the fascinating people who are truly no different than we are. I wanted to do all I could to make up for the years of poor decisions and bad behavior. I wanted to fast forward my relationship with Jesus so that I could enjoy all of the blessings and promises He offers.
Another spoiler alert: It doesn’t work this way.
Every day – and I truly mean every day, I am learning something new about Jesus and myself. I am seeing how the wrong-thinking I’ve had for decades got me into a boatload of unnecessary heartache. Just as it will take more than day of raking to prepare my landscape for the season, it will take the rest of my life to uncover and discover all that God has promised me.
But I’m not giving up. I’m not letting a few blisters and sore muscles stop me. Because I know that there’s a reward at the finish line. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize.
I’d like to encourage you this week to reflect on the state of your spiritual journey. Is it ready for a spring cleanup? If so, arm yourself with the right tools and pace yourself. You might experience a bump or bruise, but it’ll all be worth it.