Gardener of Souls

The following thoughts are inspired by the eighth chapter of “The Mission of Motherhood” by Sally Clarkson.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

Proverbs 24:3-4

Children are like a bare garden plot just waiting to be nurtured and tended to. And just like in any other garden, something will begin to grow whether given proper care or not…but it may not be what you prefer to take root. A plot left alone will sprout weeds, grow wild and unruly, and eventually reseed more unwanted vegetation into other gardens. An intentional gardener has a vision for what she’d like each of her gardens to become, and so she creates an intentional plan for how to make that vision a reality. Intentional gardening results in a thriving and fruitful space.

May the Lord grant each one of us the eyes to see the varying seeds that He planted within the souls of our children. And may we be willing to cultivate and tend to the needs of each seed accordingly. Just as each flower requires unique care from the gardener, so each child needs the same.

Seeds of creativity: drawing, painting, music, dancing, reading, writing, baking.

Seeds of real life skills: cooking, laundry, budgeting, changing a tire, growing vegetables, grocery shopping.

Seeds of graciousness: good manners, conversation, hospitality, consideration, empathy, ability to listen.

Seeds of experiences: travel, mission work, service projects, sports, museums, fairs, field trips.

Those are only a few examples.

Every garden is unique from any other. No two plots of soil are the same, and no two children are exactly the same. A space full of wildflowers requires much different care than a garden of roses. Personalities, needs, skills, interests, habits, and desires makes each child a challenge in his or her own way, but willing and loving hands used by the Lord can tend to him or her accordingly.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

And as any gardener knows, a fruitful garden plot requires abundant amounts of weeding. It’s the process of plucking out the unwanted growth that allows the desirable vegetation to flourish. A gardener also knows that the exact same weeds will make their way amongst the flowers again, and again, and again. But press on. Uproot them again, and again, and again. The roots will weaken with each removal.

There is a difference between meeting a need and enriching a soul. Many a garden will survive and even look beautiful under minimal care: occasional watering, sparse weeding, here-and-there fertilization, random pruning. This garden will make it, but oh, how it would flourish in the hands of a willful gardener! One who thinks carefully about replenishing nutrients to the soil, properly watering, creating ideas for weed prevention, eyeing which flowers complement one another best, observing when a good plant may need pruning, and so on. This garden will thrive! And so will a child under such intentional care.

Hear this, lest I sound like I am saying we must all be absolutely perfect mothers or our children will grow wild. I do not believe that. Every gardener knows that there are good seasons and bad ones. Life just happens sometimes and, for various reasons, we don’t tend to our little plots as well as we’d like to. Please trust that the Lord knows your heart. He is faithful to each of His children even when our strength may fail.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

No matter what gardening tasks are before you today, the tough work of weeding, the season of waiting, or the rejoicing of harvest, I pray that the Lord will bless your hands as you tend to the soil of your children’s souls. This work is eternally valuable. May He enable you to press on towards the goal: to nurture gardens that ultimately glorify His name and point others toward Him. And if the work is overwhelmingly difficult, may you praise Him. If the work is richly beautiful, praise Him. He loves those little gardens more than you and I ever can. He will remain faithful to your tending.

“Blessed are the children whose mothers garden in the soil of their souls. The fruit they bear will not only serve them in the future, but a whole generation will be beautified and enriched.”

Sally Clarkson (The Mission of Motherhood, page 154)

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