This morning the little people and I spent some time in the yard. The boys were attempting to catch bugs. Ella was trying to sneak into the sandbox, and then resigned herself to toddling and moving toys around the yard. I decided to water the overgrown tomato plants, mainly out of guilt that I could not remember when the last time they had been watered.
After watering, I began the arduous process of carefully combing the plants to try to find ripe tomatoes. For some reason our plants have grown thick and wild, coming out yards past the cute little fence I planted as a border. I have a fear that there are ripe tomatoes hidden way down in that will be ruined due to being left too long, and so I was trying to untangle stalks and stick my head in for a better view (note to self: next time pick first, water second.)
I huffed at the plants and realized there was a sentiment there...was it frustration? Why would I be frustrated with plants that are thriving, mass producing, exceeding our expectations in every way? Ah, there's the rub: expectations.
I thought we would have two healthy but contained plants that would grow proudly but properly behind the cute little black fence. Those unfettered tomato plants are like a metaphor for my life; I know that many things about it are healthy, but sometimes I just want it to look a certain way, be like everybody else. Stay in the fence, bloom proudly but discreetly, make a statement that says something meaningful but not something too different. I want my life to be like a neatly planted, well-ordered garden that blooms in rows and harvests on schedule.
Instead, my life is a whole lot like my backyard: parts of it are producing prolifically and parts of it are neglected, and- moment of honesty here- nothing is extremely well-ordered.
But still it grows; and fruit and life are there and I believe that, at my best moments when I am least me and most Christ, it is lifegiving to those I love. The truth be told (and if you're gonna tell it why not say it on the Internet) our family life will never look like the crisply tended lawns of suburbia or flawless rows of modest plants. The two of us aren't wired that way.
In many ways our crazy tomato plants are our kindred spirits, just trying to grow as much as they can and bring life wherever they can stretch to reach. And in our path we unwillingly trample down the cute little fences that we thought might make us look a little more together. But I am thankful that with each day of living, I am more and more OK with being less and less together.