A Time to Plant Roots
Every time the new year rolls around, it seems we are always dreaming up and listing off all the changes we are going to make this year. This year I'm hitting the gym at least three days a week. This year I will spend less time on my phone. This year we are sticking to the budget. No, really-- this year I am going to eat healthier.
It's great to have goals, to make changes where they are needed and set out to accomplish something great. We should dream and plan and make the most of this life we've been given.
But I’ve been learning the importance of being rooted. To plant one’s roots deeply in a soil—in a community, in a church, in a neighborhood, in a career, in the Word, in prayer and a mission field—it’s a hard but beautiful experience. This doesn't have the glitz and glamour of goal-setting. We don't list our non-changes into cute little blog posts featuring funny GIFs and styled photos.
We know that the new year is not going to bring about changes in every facet of our lives, and we would be entirely too overwhelmed if it did. But still, we skim over the consistencies. We tend to attribute long-term routines to the elderly or complacent or OCD.
And while we recognize deep-down that it’s not great for our well-being to move every year, to constantly change jobs, or to cycle through friendships when stuff starts to hit the fan-- we still like a good escape plan. So we prep the getaway car, just in case.
Being rooted is difficult, isn't it? Friendships can be messy. Community is imperfect. Neighbors blare their music too loudly or mow their lawns too early. Cities become stagnant. Jobs become boring. Distractions are abounding and hypnotizing. We forget to invest in the place we are because we are busy thinking about the places we would rather be.
Often, it seems a heck of a lot easier to make new friends, change churches, move to a new place, get a new job, give up completely. But if we keep doing this—if we keep skipping town and ditching people, we will miss out on the really good stuff. We will uproot too quickly, and we’ll never witness the harvest.
The main verse I based the name The Harvest Letters on is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
I think that says it all. There is so much beauty to be found in everyday faithfulness. When we pour out grace in relationships and stay rooted even in the storms, we are imitating Christ. Through our commitments and disciplines and sacrifices, God shows up and pours out His glory. It is a privilege to invest where God has planted us. It is a privilege to be here, in this wonderfully-ordained moment in time, to show up day after day in perseverance and patience and humility.
There is a flip side to this, though, and I don't want you to misunderstand me. Some of us do not have a choice in the changes; we get fired or dumped or we lose a loved one, and the changes come whether we wanted them or not. There are reasons for these turn of events, which we probably will not understand until much later. This is a really annoying part of life, and we will almost always question Jesus during these unwanted changes. I think it's okay to question Him. After all, He's the One with the answers.
Also, I am not saying we need to claim martyrdom all the time. We do not need to tolerate everyone. Toxic relationships and false teachers, verbal abusers and crazy exes-- we can shake the dust off our feet.
Gosh, I know there are a lot of us who have been burned-- by the church, by friends or family, by organizations or anonymous social media bullies or cowardly strangers. To you, I say: I am so, so sorry. You do not need to get burned over and over again. There is a difference between giving up and moving on.
So these scenarios I just listed? I am not talking about planting roots there. I'm just saying that we don't give up on someone who looked at us the wrong way. We don't leave a church because they never play our favorite worship song. We don't move cities because we are starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. We don't break a relationship off because they told us a hard truth. We should value rootedness a little more and stop running from our problems all the time.
We should listen to the Holy Spirit, who sometimes pushes for change and sometimes wants us to invest in the place He has planted us.
I don't know about you, but this does not come naturally to me. I want to put up a wall around my heart with an army of protection. I want to care less, be the one who is less invested. I want to make tentative plans and then cancel them at the last minute. I want a code word to leave parties early. I don't want to be disappointed in people, which can't happen if I keep everyone at arm's length. I can't fail as a farmer if I never plant the seeds.
But God did not design us to have surface relationships. He did not put Adam on this earth to end it there. We are made for deep, real relationships. It is not good for man to be alone. We are meant to plant the seeds. We are made to grow the roots.
I suppose I've been learning this, however imperfectly and inconsistently, in the past few years. Throughout the first two years of our marriage, Kevin and I moved three times. We were residents of Alabama, then Arkansas, then Georgia, and finally we made it back to sweet home Alabama.
While we were thankful for the lessons we learned in each place, we both felt the Lord nudging us toward planting deeper roots. We knew we wanted to end up back in Alabama, so we took a leap of faith and moved back to our hometown.
We bought a house we could grow into and joined an imperfect, but community-filled church. Now it’s been almost three years of developing relationships with our neighbors, both on our street and in our city, and it’s been three of the sweetest, hardest, light-filled years. Unless the Lord leads us in a different direction, we are filled with expectant hope in remaining rooted in this place where He has so wisely placed us.
And when the time for more changes arrives at our doorstep, we hope to stay rooted in the most important thing; we seek to remain rooted in the unchanging Gospel Truth.
Because even in waves of change and confusion, He is steady and sure, a perfect and holy anchor for our souls. And if we reach out a hand to the Lord of the Universe, He will never let go.
Let's not give up, friends. There might be a harvest on the horizon.