Posted by: Kara Luker | August 19, 2019

Unshakable identity

An unintended result of the excessive amount of time I’ve been spending planting things is a mind filled with gardening analogies. Here is another, along with apologies in advance for all the others that will probably follow.

A plant has often caught my eye while wandering the aisles of a nursery. Maybe the shape of the leaves or the color of the flowers. I pick it up, observe it more closely and try to picture where it will go in my garden. This is also when I take a peek at the tag hanging from its leaves or the little stake in its soil, which tells me the name of the plant as well as all sorts of other things like how much sun it needs and how big it will be. This information, as it turns out, is very important. There have been times I’ve been very drawn to a sweet little plant in a 2 gallon container only to find out that it is, say, a Crepe Myrtle that will reach 25 feet in height and 15 in width. That size is a wonderful quality in a tree. Unless you are buying it for a small garden in front of your home where its branches, reaching for the sky like they were created to do, will rip the eaves off your house. Then not so much.

There is also the matter of sun. This was, at first, my biggest frustration. Every single plant I loved seemed to say full sun. I did not have full sun. Some parts didn’t even really have any sun to speak of. But sometimes, when you want something a lot, you consider these things more of a suggestion and you buy them anyway. And you plant them in your shady spot, willing them to be something other than they are. And maybe you keep them alive but it becomes clear that they will never thrive there because the conditions are out of sync with what is written on the seed of who they are – their identity, if you will – which I’ve found to be unchangeable. So, I finally started buying plants that are suited for the environment I have. I’ve found so many delightful ones, it’s hard to imagine I was so frustrated by the limitations. And while it’s yet to be seen how they will fare longterm, at least I know they’ve got a fighting chance.

sunflowerWhen I was younger, I longed with all my heart to be a full-sun flower: An extrovert. To me, that represented all that was vibrant and bold and engaging. Those were the people who connected with others effortlessly. Who seemed fearless, less sensitive, less complicated. Who didn’t need to withdraw and recharge. I was, without question, an introvert. I did not like that fact and figured it could be changed by the strength of my will. So I planted myself in a sunny spot like the sunny flower I wanted to be and tried to act like the sunny flowers acted. This required large quantities of alcohol and many other substances, and a disconnect with my true self as a part-sun to shade kind of girl. I survived – barely – but, as you can imagine, I didn’t thrive. I couldn’t thrive. It wasn’t until I started to heed the useful information on the stake in my soil and joyfully accept it that my life really started to become healthy and full. I enjoy being with people more than ever, but the sunny flower performance is falling away and I am learning to love the introspective parts of me that enable me to spend hours alone in the garden or in my quiet little writer’s shed sharing my heart.  

I believe our identity was determined by our Creator: Loved. Accepted. Created with purpose and meaning. It is written into the DNA of all people and is the starting point of any life that will grow to its full potential. We can survive without this understanding, but we won’t thrive until we grasp it. Also determined by our Creator before we ever even breathed a single breath were our gender, our personality, our intellect, our skin color and body type, and so many unique ways we alone can reflect God’s love and beauty. We can feel like we are something different, want to be something different, try to be something different and we will still be loved; accepted; created with purpose and meaning – that can’t be changed. But it isn’t until we shake off all the ideas of who we think we are or want to be and find out who we truly are that we are going to experience the abundant life so miraculously contained in the seed of each and every one of us. 

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