My chief hobby is growing roses, a tradition handed down from my grandmother through my mom and now to me. But more than a connection to my family or a source of peace and therapy, such an undertaking has afforded me many life lessons, serving as a highly effective metaphor.
The essential ingredients to growing great roses are the correct soil mixture and proper preparation of the bed in which the rose shall be planted. The right mix of nutrients, the right drainage and retention of water, the right depth of the roots, and the right amount of mulch are all critical aspects. Miss these details, and the roses will fail to thrive, and may even die, regardless of effort or expense.
Likewise, if I do not have the proper “soil and preparation” for my life/soul, then it suffers greatly. I know from personal experience. I nearly died from lack of spiritual principles in my life. But since embracing honesty, acceptance, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, love, discipline, perseverance, prayer/meditation, and service to others, my life has thrived, even in the face of severe adversity.
Roses require regular spraying and fertilizing to stay healthy. Otherwise diseases and insects can decimate them quickly. In a similar fashion, I must stay in close contact with people who can hold me accountable, read Scripture daily, meditate daily, and be of service to others regularly. The days when I do not involve these disciplines in my life to my best ability tend to be rough regardless of circumstances. However, those days that I do leverage these simple yet powerful actions are filled with peace and strength, despite any challenges that might come my way.
Roses are flowers of incredible beauty, delighting the senses in so many ways. But despite their beauty, they can be very painful to harvest. But enduring the pain of thorns is worth it to add the beautiful roses they guard to a bouquet. This fact helps me to remember that even the best aspects and events of my life will have some pain associated with them. However, if I focus on the beauty (best done by making a “gratitude list”) of life, the painful parts are much more bearable.
Pruning is also a highly important task to allow roses to thrive. It enhances the quality and quantity of roses the bush will produces, and contributes greatly to the long term health of the plant. The process can appear rather gruesome to the casual observer, however. It entails cutting back most of the growth of the previous year, and the complete removal of some of the canes. The plant can appear dead to the untrained eye. This is perhaps the most poignant lesson I have learned. There will be seasons of “pruning” in my life that will make way for new vibrant growth. I must embrace those times, and allow God’s glory to shine through me in new ways.