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What my Hydrangeas Taught Me-by Heidi McLaughlin

Posted: August 15, 2022

Something happened to my hydrangea bushes this year. The flowers, which always give me so much joy and delight, this summer they’ve given me pathetic disappointment. But in all this they’re giving me some valuable life lessons.

When planted in the right soil and sun/shade, hydrangea bushes are exquisitely beautiful and resilient. When I prune them just right they flourish year after year, and as I dry the flower heads, they add stunning décor to any room in my home.

Until they don’t.

My two bushes gave me joy for 25 years but were slowly becoming root bound and it was time to dig them out and plant new ones. So I planted new bushes with joyful expectation. But sadly the new bushes are not thriving, instead they look sick and I’m not sure they’re going to make it.

I fully believe God gives us examples in His physical creation to help us understand our inner spiritual life. Here is what God taught me:

  • Lesson #1: My two bushes became so root bound they were tangled up in each other’s roots and were slowly dying. Yes God created us for relationship and it gives us some of our greatest joy. We are to “bear each other’s burdens, pray for one another, encourage one another, confess our sins to one another” and more. We are made for  “one another” to help us through this complicated life. But sometimes we get so “tangled up” in each other’s lives, we take on too much responsibility. We don’t set healthy boundaries and it becomes toxic. And…we don’t put God first and instead try to feed our soul through other people’s lives. This may work for a while but eventually our roots will dry out when we become disappointed, people didn’t feed our needs and slowly the relationship dries up and we suffer spiritually.
  • Lesson #2: I can’t just expect flowers to flourish if I don’t care for them, guard them from pests and insects. Something got at my new hydrangeas and I know what it was. Marmots, even some deer nibbled at them, some bugs or fungus and over or under watering. I honestly don’t know if they will survive.  This is an outer display of what happens in my spiritual life, if I don’t “take care of my heart for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Also there is an enemy out there called Satan or the father of lies, who wants to rob us of joy, and slowly infect us with lies and misunderstandings which will eventually erode us on the inside. Make us angry, build resentment, bitterness, not forgive and sometimes even plan retaliation.
  •  We have to catch those infections before they bury themselves in our hearts and destroy our soul.

When we don’t take care of things in the physical, over time they will crumble or be destroyed. Even more importantly is our soul care. We think we’re OK when we do what’s not right, but over time…it will build toxins in our hearts. We’ll feel defeated, insecure, and angry and we don’t even know why.

In the same way we take care of your plants in the summertime, in order to flourish we need to take care of our hearts.  Life is all about learning and unlearning. Stopping and starting. What do you need to stop or start today?

Posted in: 5 things, adversity, beauty and joy, bitterness, crisis, decisions, disappointments, empty soul, Encouragement, Expectations, feeling good, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, fresh joy, frustrations, hydrangea bushes, joy, Overcoming Struggles, pruning, relationships, Resentment, retaliation, satan, take care of your heart, tender soul care, toxic relationships

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