Impulse shopping isn’t usually a problem for me but late last April while walking past the beautiful flowers lined up at the entrance of a store, I couldn’t resist. The colors were perfect and the flowers were a smaller, more delicate version of one of my favorite annuals, so the fun money was easily spent.
Two months later those beautiful flowers along with my other petunias, which should flower all summer long, were dried up, caterpillar eaten and nearly dead. In years past I would have just left them to die completely because when I have attempted to fight the insects, I failed. So… Why bother?
This year is different.
Using the ever knowledgeable Google, I researched “cut worms” (because years ago someone told me yhey were the problem) and learned that cut worms are not the problem but a different kind of caterpillar. Then I drove to my local “Freddy’s,” as dad always called it, and started reading labels in the pesticide aisle. My apologies to all you organic gardeners, I really do love the earth. When I got home with the liquid concentrate and spray bottle I read the label, calculated a smaller ratio, measured, mixed and started spraying all the potted plants on my deck.
And then I waited.
After a week or so, I noticed new growth and full blooms on the larger petunia plants but my favorite was still struggling. As per directions (and the fact that I noticed signs of more caterpillar damage), I repeated the treatment every couple of weeks. Sadly, my yellow, orange and purple flowers that look like miniature petunias were still not thriving…
They are beautiful and alive and growing and actually blooming! First the yellow blooms appeared. Then the purple, and today – finally, orange! It took time, persistence, consistency and patience to nurse these flowers back to life. It will take continued care for them to thrive through the summer and even into fall. I enjoy these plants so much that the energy I put in is worth it to me.
Shouldn’t I care for myself even more so? And for people around me?
The plants on my deck are called ‘annuals’ for a reason. In general, they live for only one year. Relationships, on the other hand are eternal.
It took many months of learning about myself, along with hard work, to nurse my lost, insecure, tired, overwhelmed, anxious heart back to life. I had basically given up. Today I am SO VERY GRATEFUL to be able to enjoy life and who God created me to be because I am finally growing and changing. The caterpillars that were eating away at my life are no longer thriving – although I must continually check in with myself to be sure I’m still on the right track. My relationship with myself is good. My relationship with God has been revived or restored (or something)… It is good too, and again a continual work in progress.
The time has also come to get serious about the next most important relationship in my life. Marriage. We have struggled. And thankfully, we both realize and admit there’s need for some “pesticide treatment” and intentional, very intentional, work to be done. We have been doing this for a while and it is HARD WORK.
Sometimes (I will admit it) I want to give up. It’s just too hard. Even yesterday that thought went through my mind. But I am reminded by the flowers that I lovingly nurtured back to life, of the reward for a job well done.
I helped those flowers survive. Without my effort they would be dead.
Same goes for my life. If I hadn’t put in the effort, I would still be walking around as the old, angry, insecure Terri.
With our effort, as well as time to nurture and heal, I believe our marriage will one day thrive as well.
I am grateful.