Tuesday, 28 May 2013

How does your garden grow? {cultivating your marriage}

I was back out in my garden recently- my first days of planning, buying  and planting for this summer.  I remembered, once again, as I walked around the garden centre, looking at the beautiful flowers and plants, how much I *love* my garden.

When I got back to my garden, though, I realised it was not quite "ready" for planting.  You see, over the winter, the cold spring, and my early pregnancy, I hadn't taken care of it as I should have done.   There were weeds, the ground was hard, and it simply wasn't ready for planting.  There were plants that I needed to trim back, and there were others that I just didn't know what had happened to them at all.  Bulbs that had come up with no flowers.  Others that I was sure I had seen appearing this time last year, but there was no sign of them at all.

I got to to doing some research.  At the garden centre, I asked an expert about those plants that needed trimming.  She gave me the advice I needed, and I got it done.

With a hard trim back, getting rid of the dead and straggly plant, new growth would come up.

The "blind" bulbs, with no flowers, had been planted at the wrong depth, or needed some food  So, replanting and feeding them next year should do the job.

The children helped me sort out the weeds, before they got any bigger, and loosened the soil ready for planting.

Dead leaves were removed, to clear the ground.

Plants that had not survived the winter were completely removed, making make for something new.

It was quite an effort to nurture everything back to the way it should be.  I realised afresh that it is not a simple thing to have a garden.  If I want things to flourish and grow, I need to look after them.  The plants need the room to grow.  I need to know how each one thrives and flourishes, and make sure I add the right things to the soil to help.  I need to make sure that I move plants to a position where they will grow better.

So much "tending".

How like our marriages this is!

If we just plant the good things that early marriage brings, and leave them alone, our marriage will not thrive and grow.  "Weeds" will come in, that need to be pulled out - insubmissive attitudes, lack of communication, words spoken in haste, neglect of the marriage bed, complacency. Advice from ungodly sources, or ungodly friends, or even those Christian friends who follow worldly ways, are "weeds" that will choke a healthy marriage.  All these "weeds" need to be pulled out, before they take root and choke our marriage.

We need to water and feed our marriage - with prayer and studying of God's Word.  Do we search the scriptures to see what God teaches about marriage - about love - about relationships? Do we care enough to WANT to grow and change?  Do we desire to strengthen our prayer life, and do we seek to pray earnestly about our marriages - seeking to hedge them about, and protect them in prayer, from the devil - who wants to destroy our marriages?

We can read books, or listen to sermons, which will nourish and encourage growth.

Is there enough light reaching our marriages, for growth to occur?  Is the light of God's Word shining upon us, and governing our lives, above the shade that the world, and its false advice, will bring to our marriages?

Sometimes, in our marriages, we find that ways of doing things no longer work for us.  Like the dead plants I pulled out, we need to just get rid of these things, if they are hindering growth, spiritually or emotionally. What works for us now, to make things grow and flourish, may not be what was good at the beginning.  We are pretty likely to make even more changes, as our marriage matures.

As with my garden, sometimes in our marriages we need to plant new things!  Ideas, attitudes or routines may need to be put in place, that we have never thought of before. A garden can become a bit boring if no changes are ever made - you would take the beauty a little for granted.  Injecting new things most usually brightens things up and improves the look of the place.  Same with our marriages - sometimes we need to either look at things in a new light, or do things in a totally new way, in order for improvement to come.

What about all those children's toys and flotsam and jetsam that migrates to the garden?  It looks a bit of a mess if all these things take over - balls kicking flower heads off (trust me, that's a pain to my very heart right now... my long-awaited alliums, having a head knocked off - only one bloom per plant, and now one is  gone..... *chuckles through gritted teeth* ), flowers trampled on and picked off, toys strewn everywhere.  It always makes me sigh with contentment when they are all picked up, and everything looks "rosy" again. Our marriages are the same.  The moment that the children take priority, our marriage will come to harm.  Our children are a BLESSING, but our marriage should never take second, or even third (or worse) place in our lives.  Neglecting our marriage, in favour of giving the children more attention, will not only harm our marriage, but in the long run it will harm the children.  If our marriages are weak and failing, it will have a knock on effect on our children.

One thing is for very sure.  If you don't even care about your garden at ALL,  it will quickly become a complete mess - ugly, overrun by weeds and hardly a "garden" at all - more like a rubbish heap.  We want our marriages to be alive!  To be filled with beauty, even if it is only God,   and *us* that see the beauty in it (you know, like those weird, modern art gardens, that only the people who plant them seem to appreciate! *giggles* ), that is what matters most.

So, how does YOUR garden grow? Let's all go and tend our marriages, so they are filled with beauty, and get pulling those "weeds" up!

( this is NOT my garden.... although I love allium! )

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