Last Fall I started a compost pile. To be completely honest, I have no idea what I am doing. I have read up on all the latest information on composting and I have found it may not be for me. I have promised myself to give it until this upcoming Fall and reassess. If you are not familiar with composting, it is a way to recycle organic matter like grass clippings, fruit/veggie cuttings, coffee grounds, ect. When you throw this all together in a strange lasagna type concoction, it breaks down over time to create a nutrient-rich soil. Many farmers and gardeners call this “black gold”. It is highly sought after because it helps create a healthy foundation for plants to flourish.
Three months ago I was planning content for The Rooted Journal and its social media accounts. After some thinking and praying, I decided to center around the word “Cultivate” in the month of April. With the world in upheaval, I had no idea how perfect it would all fit into the present. The dictionary defines cultivate like this:
There is a four letter cuss word that cultivate hinges on: work. Everyone enjoys the produce off a lush garden. But talk to any farmer/gardener and they will tell you it is hard work. It takes a lot of sweat on the back end in order to enjoy the organic produce from your back yard. It comes as no surprise that Jesus often used farming metaphors to impart wisdom or teach a concept. Our hearts and lives are a lot like the soil in a famers field. It is has the capacity to produce a harvest if we cultivate it. You cannot have a healthy harvest if you have unhealthy soil.
Where do we acquire this healthy soil to sow seeds for a harvest? We recycle the “unwanted parts” of our lives. When you chop up veggies for a stew, there are “ugly parts” you take the blade of your knife to. The stems, ends, and rough parts were all part of the entire plant at one point and essential during the growth process. When it comes to harvest them, however, we slice those pieces off. In the same way, there are moments in our lives that look or feel ugly that we want to chop off and throw away. Maybe you were at a party and felt lonely because you didn’t know anybody. Maybe you lost a friend. Maybe you are an extrovert stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe you have no idea when your paycheck will start up again.
There are pieces of our lives, both big and small, that we want to cut off and throw away. But may I challenge you that perhaps these are the moments to compost rather than trash. Though we often throw away the cuttings from the kitchen, they can be essential food to produce a healthy composted soil. What was once unsightly and disposed has now been graphed into the foundation for a healthy crop that will one day find itself on your kitchen counter again. May I submit to you that the unsightly, bruised, and unwanted moments of your life can be “composted” to create a fertile foundation for growth and abundance?
Life is a cyclical journey of growth with changing seasons. We want to live fruitful lives. Valuable things come from valuable time invested. As you find yourself in this new season I encourage you to take a look at the moments you can compost. You are stuck inside during this pandemic. Compost it. Perhaps that time can become the pivot that your family needed to reconnect and flourish. You don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from. Compost it. Maybe this is a time for you to reach out to those who love you for help. You are missing your elderly loved ones. Compost it. Now you are finding time to recognize what your heart has taken for granted.
Those are just a few examples specific to walking through this pandemic. But the concept applies to every area and season of our lives. In our eagerness to complain about uncomfortable moments, there is a harvest waiting to be cultivated. I encourage you to take this next month to turn your perspective to a positive one. Preaching to Facebook choirs is rarely profitable for anyone. What is profitable is establishing a new rhythm of prioritizing positive perspectives. It is not disingenuous or gullible happiness. It is changing your lenses to view life through peace. Take in the good. Then acknowledge the things that need to be grieved, trim them, and compost them. As you continue to compost these moments through life, you will always have healthy soil on hand to sow new seeds in. Then, you wait for your harvest.
Good Things Come To Those Who Work
It happened again the other day. I was sitting in bed, eating (non-dairy) chocolate chips, watching Golden Girls on DVD, and having an existential crisis. My mind was slowly slipping away into a pit of despair as I contemplated just how little I had accomplished in my life. As usual, I spent a fair bit of time moping about and wondering why life was blocking me from moving forward. It took about a millisecond to come up with a laundry list of reasons why I was unable to make any headway in my dreams/goals. It was then that my hubby began to talk me off of the ledge. He said, “You’ve been talking about being a writer and musician since we got married, yet in the five and a half years of being married you’ve never really done anything about that. Why do you try so hard to push against those dreams?”
I have heard “your dreams don’t work unless you do” enough times to make me physically ill. I gently nod my head with a yeah, yeah and move on to continue my dreary and dramatic moping. When Darryl asked me about my dreams, goals, and desires this mantra came to my mind. As he questioned where all my whimsical determination had gone, in typical fashion, I came up with an array of excuses why life had set me too far back. He gently continued to coax me to dig a little deeper. It was not long before I had run out of excuses and had to face the music. I was not moving forward because I was not working. He could see right through me.
They say that good things come to those who wait. Honestly, I think it could also be said that good things come to those who work. Work has become a cuss word to many of us. It does not matter what your background is, many of us struggle to embrace the idea of work as a good thing. We associate work with a dreaded 9-5 job where we are simply another cog in the machine. Of course this incorporates a type of work, but it is a job. A job is a place of employment. Work is action. Perhaps part of the problem is first finding purpose that is meaningful and therefore worthy of our best work. But even when some of us find that kind of work, there can be major mental blocks that stop us from ever putting in the effort. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s past hurt. Maybe it’s new limitations we have to learn to live with.
Or maybe you are like me and realize that you put just enough effort in to make it look like you are working, but not enough effort to create forward momentum. I am the master of working a lot and never getting anything done. I don’t want to be thought of as lazy so I do a lot of things. I also enjoy the path of least resistance and quickly jump from task to task to avoid conflict and/or hardship. But I had to face myself in the mirror and recognize that some of the reasons why I’m still stuck in a rut is because I expect 110% reward for 20% effort. And that my friends was a very ugly truth I had to face.
I never set out to be that person. I do work hard but I also work on peripheral tasks that take away from meaningful work. When I spend so much time on tasks that distract me its easy to feel like I am getting a lot accomplished. At the same time I’m only ever really moving laterally. Many of us have been there before. Let me set the scene. You want to have a profitable blog so you dreamcast, create the perfect vision board, find your perfect niche, and get your branding on point. Now all you need is the content. Suddenly, you’re struck with paralysis but decide you’ve got to start somewhere. This blog isn’t going to write itself.
You begin with the goal of writing one blog post. That is manageable and realistic. You get distracted when you get to your desk because your office space has clutter so you decide to quickly tidy up. As you are cleaning off your desk you end up with a pile of papers that need to be organized. Since you still have a fair bit of motivation you figure you’ll get those organized. Once you finish organizing those papers, you notice you have no folders or place to put your newly organized pile of papers. After looking around you settle on a shelf you can rearrange to make space for the papers. As you do that, those items need a new home and decide to take them to a shelf the living room. When you get to the living room, there are a few odds and ends lying on that shelf that need to be moved in order to re-home your displaced items. This continues on and on and before you know it, you’ve gathered laundry, done the dishes, swept the floor, begun organizing your pantry, cleaned out the car, organized your purse, taken the dog on a walk, ran to the store for folders, stopped at your favorite coffee shop (and stayed for a half an hour chat), run a few errands, stopped by a thrift store, grabbed a few groceries that were on sale, washed the dog, and made umpteen number of lists for various projects. Finally, you sit back down at your computer to write that blog and realize you are completely out of motivation and the day is gone.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish I actually got this much done by accident. If you are in a similar boat as I am, you can definitely relate to this rat race. But I am trying to prove a point here. If writing that first blog post is the first step in your dreams/goals, then all those other tasks have derailed you. Another day has past and you’ve half-way and haphazardly checked off some to-do items but haven’t really gotten anywhere. You have focused your best energy on tasks that don’t require your best energy.
I am a huge victim of this. I waste the best of myself on tasks that do not actually require the best of myself. It was such a brutal realization to come to, but I have reached the end of my long list of excuses. A lot of life has happened and that definitely counts for something. Eventually life does move on with or without me. It does not wait for me to be fully prepared to jump back in. Eventually, I have to look at myself in the mirror and accept that the healing process is complete and I am allowing fear to stagnate me. As a millennial I hate being labeled as ‘entitled’ but there are definitely times I can feel myself leaning into that identity. I want life to be easy. Who doesn’t? I want to run at the first sign of resistance. But resistance creates pressure. Pressure creates power. And that power can be wielded to accomplish some really amazing things.
I am reclaiming the concept of work as a lifelong purpose rather than a dreary-some burden. I am learning to accept when resistance comes and leverage it for purpose. I am trying to promise the best of myself to the most meaningful work first. It will take time to reset that mindset, no doubt! But I want to give my best effort to the work that is most meaningful to me. If the journey truly is the destination then the end success isn’t the highest priority. The highest priority is waking up every day and giving your best energy to the work regardless of the outcome.
Disclaimer: This is an online journal of my personal musings. They are here as I wrestle through life as an encouragement to you. I am a Christ follower and my faith is very important to me. If we don’t share the same faith, political stances, background, or opinions, I believe you are of great value and hope you find a slice of encouragement just as much as someone who does. I disable comments to avoid trolls and my own ego, but reach out directly to me if you’d like to converse.