Note from Amy: Today’s post comes from a wonderful writer and member of the Conspiracy (my group of old soul writers and regular contributors on From the Ravens). I adore Kari’s wisdom and graceful writing, plus I get a little snippet of the New England life which I so miss.

We have a spare room in our house, and typically, it’s in use. But these aren’t typical days. So instead of company, my spare room is housing a different sort of guest. At present, the room is a greenhouse to a motley crew of herb, tomato, and pepper plants. It’s a sunny nook and I think my little plants are quite happy sleeping in it.

The peppers had me well convinced they were dead — to the point I almost stopped watering them. But, perhaps sensing their own demise, they popped through the soil just in time. And, because I am the kind of person who lets seedlings sleep in her guest room, it may come as no surprise that I keep thinking about those peppers and all they might teach me.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

John 12:24 ESV

Jesus said those words right before he gave his life on the cross. He was willing to die once that all might live. And in so doing, perfectly illustrates the plight of a seed. Unless you put a seed in the dark ground and let it break open and die, there is no new life. One thing must splinter and perish for another thing to take root and live.

The Life We Cannot See

I think about this a lot in motherhood. From the very moment of conception onward, motherhood requires a lot of hidden work. New life stretches and grows in the womb until a mother’s body breaks open in birth. Her life is irreversibly changed so that the life of her child might take root. And though you may not believe it in the delivery room, that’s just a spoonful of the hidden work to come.

Like my peppers, there are seasons of motherhood when it appears everything I’ve watered and tended must surely be dead. The same messes are cleaned again and again. The same instructions repeated. The same moods and attitudes linger on. And there’s simply no fruit for my labor.

And because of this, I have a painting on my living room mantel with these words to daily remind me,

“You don’t have to be blooming to be growing.”

Ruth Chou Simons

Even when there’s no visible fruit, life presses on beneath the surface. Like the kingdom of God and the kingdom of a seed, the kingdom of motherhood is an upside-down one. The daily dying to self that is required of a mom brings life and growth not only to her children, but in her as well – even when she can’t see it.

Keep Tending the Garden

1 Corinthians 15 again reminds us that,

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.”

1 Corinthians 15: 36-38 ESV

We can’t fully predict the outcome of our labor. We may work for years with little fruit to show for our love and sacrifice. But we do know this — for even a chance at new life, we must step into the dark. We must plant the seed and allow it to break open and change. 

Paul concludes his lesson on life and death with this admonishment to the Corinthians:

“. . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

Keep watering the life you can’t see. Allow yourself to break open and change into the new life and person Christ calls you to. And like my pepper plants, you may be surprised by what pokes through the soil when all seems to be dead and lost.

Change is Good

I’m not the same girl I was before becoming a mom; that seed has split open and changed forever. But I know the trials, lessons, and beauty of motherhood are the very thing God is using to grow and change me into who he wants me to be. And while the medium of change may be different for you, the lesson is the same: change is good when we’re growing into who God calls us to be.

Kari is a writer, homeschooler, and curator of a slow and beautiful life. A midwesterner turned New Englander, her family has travelled much and focused on rooting into God’s green earth in search of His perfect soil. You can find her writing at The Wheat Princess blog and @thewheatprincess on Instagram.

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