There’s this plant on my kitchen windowsill. It was a take-home gift from a wedding some years ago. I like the couple who got married. Yet that plant with their picture sits there, struggling. Because more often than not, I forget to water it.
I leave it there, almost dying. Almost, but not quite, because just when it’s about to gasp its last, I water it. Why it even has the will to hang on, I don’t know.
Poor little thing.
All it does is shoot tiny arrows of guilt that sting, but fade as soon as something else catches my attention.
Makes me think of other things that have gained a foothold in my life. I suppose we all have a lot of hangers-on. There are things that have fallen into our lives, and then there are those we thoughtlessly let in. There are emotions that were swept in with various events and upheavals, and most of those have overstayed their welcome. And certainly, because life is that way, there are people who are better off without us, and vice versa. All of these, I know I need to do something about. But for various reasons, I just don’t.
Likely as not, I don’t care enough. I forget too easily, which means I don’t care enough. It takes too much work, which means I don’t care enough. So they hang on, and life would be so much simpler if I could just cut the threads, but I need to find the scissors and in my house, that takes too much effort. And then there are a few that need my attention, if only long enough for me to show them the door. And I drag my feet. Because drama and I don’t get along, and I always end up with an upset stomach.
And yet, in my saner moments, I wonder what each day would look like if I clean out the mess and leave only the things that matter to my story.
Like, Jesus, and all that He is and what He means to me.
Like, my family, those that are closest to my heart.
Like, my faith, and what that should look like when lived out fully.
Like, real friendships with kindred spirits and those who may be different but love the same.
Like, beauty that’s exactly the kind my heart responds to, and not necessarily what the world sees as beautiful.
What if I get cracking and get rid of the things that only bring guilt and shame? [To be clear, those things aren’t always bad. Oftentimes, many of the things that clutter my life are good things. They’re just not part of my narrative. Like that poor plant, they probably just belong in someone else’ kitchen.] And what if I allow the things that bring me joy, that inspire and challenge, to take their place?
Like, my sixth-grader coming home at the end of the day, his head stuck in the fridge, mumbling, “Today took a lot out of me!”
Like, the stillness of a meadow in midday, the hot summer sun beating down on blades of grass desperate for a cooling breeze.
Like, my husband sending me text messages throughout the day, just to keep a conversation going.
Like, the sweeping arc of a battle, guts and blood and tear-streaked faces screaming for justice.
Like, my tenth-grader, talking about the choices he is making, and what he wants the future to look like for him and his family.
Like, a soaring hawk in a blue sky, suspended over a mountain of brilliant red and deep orange.
Like that song that started playing just not, reminding me my life has got to mean more, in light of what He has done for me.
Like, the tears of a exhausted hero on her knees, out of her depth and yet still fighting.
I threw the plant out today. It was mostly dry and shriveled up, and I could tell it was never going to get past all its days in the desert.
I also picked up a book I struggled to finish, it was just too hard to read. Injustice is a hook in my soul that keeps tugging, and this book adds to the discomfort. But discomfort like this always leads to action.
And after I finish my book, I think I’ll go ahead and write a friend an email, just to tell her I remember her pain and I’m holding the line for her through prayer.
And soon it will be time for my boys to come home. And getting dinner ready while they do their homework is a highlight of every weekday.