trans●plant (trænsˈplænt), v.
- to lift and reset in another soil or situation
- to remove from one place or context and settle or introduce elsewhere
- to transfer from one part or individual to another
In my lifetime I have learned a lot about gardening from my mom and grandparents. Every summer I would help them plant countless vegetables in their gardens, ranging from corn to cucumbers, to purple-hull peas, to potatoes, to squash and zucchini. I would spend my summer days in the sweltering Louisiana heat dropping and covering seeds, digging up weeds with a hoe, or picking everything as it got ripe. Afterward, Nana would always show her appreciation for us with a bowl of ice cream and a nice, home-cooked lunch before we would get to work shelling the many bushels of peas we had just picked. At home, I would tend to my mom’s flowers. I would water them as they quickly sucked up any drop of moisture, thirsty from the lack of sufficient rains. I would pick the dead daylily flower buds off of their stems to make room for fresh buds preparing to bloom.
I learned that sometimes you have to do a process known in horticulture as “transplanting.” In gardening terms, to transplant something means to dig the plant up and move it from its current soil and situation into a new one. If a plant or flower is not doing well or showing much growth in one location, sometimes it is best to move it to a better place in the garden. One of the main things you have to make sure your transplanted flower or plant has is a sufficient water supply, seeing as the roots are almost inevitably injured during the process. The roots have to be pruned to stimulate new growth and the damaged parts must be removed. The plant itself must also be pruned to balance the foliage with the reduced root surface; without this process, the plant will lose more moisture in transpiration than it can replenish with its roots. While this process is painstaking and can cause injury to the roots of the plant, in the end, the plant will experience more growth in a better location. My mom did this often with her daylilies to help thin out the flower beds and spread them across the yard. She would move them from more shaded areas to areas of more concentrated sunlight where they would grow better. (some information summarized from http://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/agriculture-and-horticulture/horticulture/transplanting).
Today while packing up our apartment to move to Waco, TX (five hours from my hometown), I can’t help but feel like one of those daylilies my mom transplants each year. I feel like God is digging me up, ripping my roots from the soil and the flower bed that they love and are used to. I feel like all the growing up I am having to do in such a short time is God pruning my roots and leaves to prepare them for the spiritual water He’s planning to pour out over Lee and myself to help us grow. He’s taking us out of our home soils we’ve been plotted in for so long and putting us in a place where we have access to more sunlight and space to grow.
That being said, I have never lived outside of Natchitoches Parish in my (almost) twenty-two years. I’m so scared and excited to start this journey, but I’m finding it so hard to imagine my life away from my parents, family, and friends here in Louisiana. I’m nervous about finding a job, doing well in school and stepping outside the secure space my family has built for me. The worst part is how fast it went; it seems like it’s all happening so fast and I’m just not quite ready.
While talking to Lee about it yesterday afternoon, I was able to describe it in a way that made more sense. Our favorite ride at Walt Disney World is Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N Rollercoaster. It is an indoor rollercoaster filled with loud rock music, neon lights, and terrifying loops and corkscrews. To this day it remains the only rollercoaster I’ve been on that goes upside down. When you are waiting in line for this ride, the hype is so real. You watch other families and thrill-seekers shooting off in their Cadillac car at 70 mph, screaming with excitement as their hair blows back from their faces. Your gut clenches, your palms sweat, and you’re not sure that you can handle it. While waiting for this ride I looked at Lee and said, “I don’t think I’m ready, I’m going to get out of line.” But he convinced me to stay. When I got on the ride the pressure continued to build until the car shot off, and I clenched my teeth and eyes, scared to death. After the tracks leveled out and my heart was no longer in my stomach, I opened my eyes and my breath was taken away by the beauty, creativity and sheer fun of this ride. Neon signs blurred past us; pink, blue, green. We went upside down through the O in the “Hollywood” sign. Lee and I laughed and sang along to the Aerosmith music in our ears, and all I could think about is how this must really be living. I was so glad I pushed through my fear and anxiety. I really hope that moving far away from home feels like this too. While I get so caught up in setting up our apartment, insurance and other necessities, trying to think of everything in this way helps me remember why we’re leaving in the first place: to follow God’s plan for our lives; to learn how to better share His gift of salvation; and to grow together in Christ and depend on each other.
Letting God transplant you is difficult. You feel as though everything is the way it should be, and we become comfortable living with the limited resources we have access to. It’s hard to see the good He is doing when your roots get damaged and you are out of the soil for a few minutes before being replanted. It feels as though you can’t breathe. However, it is important to remember that growing pains are normal and that God only has good intentions for you in your life. John 15:1-4 states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” This verse reminds me that Jesus is tending to my heart and pruning it so that I can be fruitful and do wonderful things for his kingdom.
I will not say that this move is going to be easy, or that I won’t be nervous or a little scared to move so far away from home. But ultimately I know in my heart that I am following God’s plan and that He will make a way for us. I know that He is by my side and that He has blessed me with a wonderful partner to make this journey with in the same way that Naomi was blessed with Ruth. I am so glad that He is transplanting me to a place where I can learn, grow and flourish in Him. I pray that if you are in a transitional period in your life, or you are considering moving to follow God’s call in your life, that you keep in mind the wonderful things that come from transplantation, and know that the Lord is the best, most knowledgeable gardener to prune your roots and prepare you for a period of growth.