Posted by: karanoel | May 19, 2022

Mint & grief

A couple years ago, I planted mint in my herb garden. Having heard of its invasive properties, I kept it in its plastic pot, wrapped thoroughly in mesh fabric to block the drainage holes, and then dropped it into the soil. Having happily outwitted the plant, I triumphantly enjoyed its benefits for a long while. Then one day, I noticed mint leaves popping up a fair distance from where I’d placed the plant. Turns out that its roots had squeezed through the drainage holes, broken through the mesh and sent runners throughout my garden bed. So much for my cleverness! But I decided it was a good thing – a mercy, if you will – to see the leaves above ground since it helped me recognize and deal with the problem beneath the surface.

Not too long after that, this same concept played out in a different way. We had guests in town and there were some plans in the works one particular day. I’d already tempered my expectations for an outcome where everyone didn’t participate since that’s often the case, but I didn’t foresee the majority choosing to go elsewhere… without me, since the decision was made too late for me to alter my own commitment. I love these people dearly and fully understood their reasoning, but my special day felt hijacked. I usually try to put on a happy face and process my emotions privately, but my disappointment was evident to all as I headed out the door.

Before I’d even turned out of my neighborhood, a torrent of tears began and kept coming from what felt like an endless well of disappointment. A ways into the drive, I realized that this reaction seemed pretty extreme. I mean, it was a bummer, but certainly not worthy of this level of emotion. So I asked the Lord to show me what was actually going on. Out of His great kindness, He did.

The following day was the third anniversary of the death of my dear son, Cole. Not only had I wanted the outcome of his struggles to be different, but I also had expectations that it would be different. That God would rescue Cole like He had rescued me. That my surrender would result in the same beautiful way all my other surrenders had – in a delightfully happy ending. Sure, I had tempered my expectations, knowing that it had to be done in God’s timing and in His way, not mine. And I was certainly aware that suicide was a possibility. But ultimately I thought it would go in a different direction. And it very definitely did not. 

What the Lord showed me that day was that lingering disappointment from Cole’s death was planted in my heart. Because its invasive properties could not be kept in one little corner of my life, it had a life of its own beneath the surface and was now popping up a fair bit away from its entry point. I don’t think anyone would blame me for feeling disappointed and I had every right to let it stay, but clearly it was not serving me or my relationships well and I knew it had to go… every single root and runner. 

While I can’t rip disappointment out of my heart the way I uprooted my mint plant, I can recognize its destructive properties, agree with God that it does not belong (no matter how much I can justify its presence), and place it in His expert hands to uproot. This holy exchange is a powerful act of trust in God’s ability to bridge the gap between my hopes and my reality. I am always astonished at what He is able to do with this simple, but often difficult, step of surrender.

The thing that really stands out to me is what a mercy it was that my plans went sideways that summer day. While it’s not what I would have chosen, it helped me see above ground (my reactions) what was going on beneath the surface (my heart issues). Time alone in the car gave me space for cleansing tears and needed revelation that probably wouldn’t have come amidst a people-filled outing. As a result, I was able to step into more surrender and receive more healing. I can’t help but see God’s goodness in it all. 

In light of this, I want to encourage you to look at your difficult circumstances in a new light – as a place of discovery and hope, where the Holy Spirit can use your reactions to help you see what is hiding beneath the surface and hindering your freedom. As you yield your understanding and justifications, He will expertly uproot all that has been given room to roam but isn’t serving you well. I have no doubt that just as I have, you will see time and again that He does indeed use all things for our good and for His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


Responses

  1. Very moving. Thank you for again sharing your heart. Deep stuff!! Doesn’t come around often.

    • Thanks again for taking the time to read and encourage me! You are so appreciated 💕

  2. Your words never cease to touch my heart with the Spirit and bring me closer to Christ. Thank you for sharing this insight. I hope to see a change and healing in my life and my family’s as we try to apply this.

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Anita! Looking forward to sharing more about the ways God exposed and uproots the things that don’t belong – and hearing what He does for you and your family too 💗

  3. A profound, if hard won, lesson, Kara. Thank you for using it to minister to us.

  4. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is Kara of Where Waves Grow Sweet. I’ve been following Kara for a number of years now and feel as though I’ve gotten to know more than just her depth and skill as a communicator–I’ve gotten to know her heart. It’s a heart that has spoken to me many times, and I trust it will speak to you as well.

    • Thank you for sharing, Mitch! Your heart has so often spoken to me too and I am grateful.

  5. The Lord is very good at “going deeper” and healing what we aren’t even aware is there. Been there -done that, and so much healing has taken place. Thanks for posting this and the encouragement it brings.

    • So grateful for the Lord who discerns what we can’t and who so graciously heals us. And I am happy to hear that you have received so much healing. What a gift that is. Thank you also for sharing the post!

  6. Reblogged this on Sue's Pen 2 Paper Blog and commented:
    This is so encouraging.

  7. Kara, this is a beautiful lesson. I’m a survivor of two family members who died by suicide. Unfortunately, it happens way too often. I’m sorry for your pain and loss but grateful you turned to God for solace. Thank you for sharing your grief story.

    • Oh Manette, I am so sorry to hear about what you have been through. It hurts my heart to read that. But I too am glad you have God for comfort and hope. I honestly don’t know how people get through without Him. xoxo

      • Just as you have leaned into our Lord’s never ending love and mercy, His grace has moved me on the continuous journey of healing. I wrote of an illustrative promise God used to teach me an unforgettable lesson that He was and is indeed with me in all things. https://musingsofmanettekay.com/2021/11/17/polished-shells-2/

        I agree, Kara, without God one can have no eternal hope and I would not have survived the initial pain. Jehovah bless you.

      • I just had a chance to read your post. I was blessed by it and I know it will be something I get to chew on for a while. I also loved how much I learned about you by reading it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Thanks for sharing such a personal story and the lesson God showed you through such devasating pain in the loss of your son.
    I actually just made tea this week with mint tea leaves so I really love the allegory you gave to that. Yes, mint tea grows like crazy. LOL! It is the best tea.:)
    Blessings to you!

    • Thank you for reading the post and sharing kind words! That makes me happy about the mint tea. I will have to try it sometime since I just started growing mint – in a pot this time 🙂

  9. romans 33:53 call unto thee thou shall answer thee, bless it be the nations, with his stripes, be ye healed.

    • Yes and amen!

      • who was wounded for transgressions

  10. Visiting from Sue Cass’ blog, and glad I did. I love when God gives us gentle lessons, and shows us how to learn and grow. I appreciate a teachable spirit, and pray that I may always have one – I don’t like the hard lessons so much.

    • Thank you for reading and responding, Kathy. Your words echo my heart!

  11. Thanks for your story, I have my own roots to uplift and could do with some help of God.

    • I think we are all in that same boat! Praying God leads you (and me) all the way to freedom.

  12. It is indeed a profound insight Kara. It explains more than some things in my life. Ironically, our version of mint has actually tried to overtake our lawn. sweet minty mowing here.

  13. Thank you for a great share.
    I read it via Mitch Teemley’s blog site – so glad that he made you is guest writer for the day.
    Hoping that many will follow your posts and be helped. Keep going!

  14. Thank you for the great gift of this wonderful and insightful post. God’s blessing to you as you continue on your journey of grieving and discovery.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and blessing. I am grateful!


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