Monday, August 20, 2012

Lesson from a Tomato Plant

I love plants.

I am not a green thumb.

Those two sentences should not go together. I love plants, but not having a green thumb means that inevitably the plants will die on me no matter how hard I try. It's a sad reality.

For proof of this fact, I'll bring up Twig One and Twig Two. I had gotten these Twigs as little babies, ready to blossom into eight feet tall Frasier Fir Trees. Over the summer I faithfully watered them and set them in the correct amount of sunlight. But one fateful day, Twig One turned brown and stopped growing. I buried Twig One, and kept nurturing Twig Two. A few weeks later Twig Two turned to a lifeless brown heap and I buried him as my dreams of ever growing something grew dimmer and dimmer.

There are green thumbs in my family. Sarah could help anything grow. She is the person who inspired me to start growing plants. She would faithfully care for all of the leafy vegetation she had in her room and I watched on in amazement at the skill it took to keep each one alive. I wanted to try it, and I also loved the wide variety of plants to choose from. God is an amazing Creator.

At the end of last summer I ended up with an Aloe Vera plant. It is still alive and I figured maybe I could only nurture desert plants.

And then the tomato plants came along.

I was given all the supplies to help them grow – soil, a large pot, and a ladder for them to climb on as they grew. It was incredible. I was so excited.

After placing them in the large pot to grow, they grew at an incredibly slow pace. I thought for sure I had done it. Someone had told me that of all the vegetable plants to grow, tomatoes are the easiest. And here I was carefully leaving it out in the sun and sheltering it during terrible storms, and it was dying.

I took a quick trip to Walmart to buy some MiracleGro. If you have never been to the outdoor section of a Walmart, please do. It was the most fun I've ever had in Walmart. I went to the outdoor section to find some MiracleGro for tomatoes. After having someone help me find it, I waited in line to check out.  Waiting in line was great. I talked to so many farmers who gave me helpful tips or told horror stories of all that could go wrong with tomatoes. We stood in line for several minutes discussing all sorts of plants. I loved it.

I came back home and declared MiracleGro Fridays. Every Friday I faithfully poured the right amount of MiracleGro on my tomato plants. They flourished! Within weeks they were thick, over three feet tall, and blooming flowers like crazy.

The tomatoes would come any moment. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Micah's grandma is an incredible gardner, so I began to ask her for tips on what I could possibly do to make my tomato plant grow tomatoes. She gave me several helpful tips. But after hearing what it looked like and that it was still in a pot she told me that the chances of it growing any tomatoes were slim.

Slim. No big deal. There is always next year. 

And then I got the terrible news that tomato plants only live a year. I was crushed. You may be thinking, "Wow. Really, Hannah? It's a plant!" But somehow, when you nurture something for so long it tends to grow on you. I had grown attached to the tomato plant and knowing that it wouldn't be producing tomatoes or live next year, it was like hearing a pet of mine was dying.

My tomato plants looked like they took a turn for the worse a few days later, but I couldn't just dump and leave them. Finally this past week, after realizing that they were becoming an eye sore to my neighbors, I decided to bury them on Monday.

Sunday morning I went outside to see how my tomato plants were doing.

My mouth dropped open and the smile on my face could not have been wider. I couldn't believe it. I had joked that if I ever tried growing tomatoes again I would hire someone to place tomatoes on my plant so that I would think tomatoes were actually growing. I thought someone had taken this to heart. Because there it was.

Small, green, round, and definitely stuck to the plant. A little tomato was growing.

I was elated!

I told everyone I knew that a tomato was growing on my plant. It was too exciting!

It also came at the most impeccable timing. Of course, God has a way of doing that.

Friday afternoon after work I went for a run. After running I wandered over to an overlook and sat down. It was peaceful, empty, and still. I sat there and began to think about the future. I had just finished my last day of work which meant that summer was now coming to an end. Summer coming to an end meant that Senior year would begin soon whether I was ready or not. I was not ready.

I sat there and tearfully poured out my fears to God. I am not ready for senior year. I don't feel ready to student teach or study again. I'm not ready for the pressures of academics. I'm not ready for the intimidation of getting up in front of a class and presenting projects. I'm not ready for senior year to end because I have no idea what I'll be doing with my life. The future is scary. I prayed that God would grant me peace and that I would truly know that He is in control and all-powerful.

And then He put a tomato on my tomato plant. Only God could take a dead plant and let fruit come from it. When I saw the tomato plant I was elated at the thought that my plant wasn't dead. But more so, I was in awe of the power of God. If He cares for something as small as a tomato plant and if He could make a fruit come from it, how much more is He in control of my life. He truly is powerful and I couldn't help but praise Him.

The God who made a tomato come from my dying plant is in control of my future and He is the One who has given me a peace about senior year. ... Who knew that God would use a tomato plant to teach me to trust Him. He is incredible!

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