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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

On Flourishing and Forcing

Late last summer, we planted a new hedge. Well, bushes that would grow together to form a sort of hedge-type thing, anyway. For almost a year, they were fine—until they weren’t. Now, in the heat of their first full summer, they’re turning brown. Yellow. Bare in spots. Needles on the ground, in surrender.⁠

The truth is, and don’t tell them this, I always thought they might be a bit thin for the job. They were scraggly right off the truck. I was skeptical of their ability to complete this task from day one. ⁠

I kept thinking—they don’t look so great from here, but if their roots are taking, surely they’ll flourish. Surely they’ll gain some bulk and stretch their branches. Surely they’ll fill in and cover the empty spots. But the empty spots grow bigger by the day, and I’m learning, sometimes the things I want to plant just don’t take. ⁠

Sometimes, even if I water them and feed them shrub-food and mulch them and protect them, what I so envisioned right here, in this spot, simply won’t grow. Those things I’m demanding can wither. ⁠

I can’t force a flourishing. Goodness knows, I’ve tried. In my parenting. In my work. In my friendships. I’ve succeeded in keeping some things alive through my own determination and focused effort, but the roots were shallow. I can’t stretch and push and cram those roots deeper if they aren’t intended to. ⁠

Deeply-rooted growth isn’t something I can order, like a coffee. True flourishing comes from something far beyond me. It unfolds effortlessly. And I need to trust that God assigns the place, the time, and the pace of both the planting and the growing. ⁠

I wanted these bushes to flourish. But it looks like we’ll need to trust God with something else.⁠

Read the rest at The Joyful Life Magazine.


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