Expectations As the World Reopens

I like to think of myself as a man of faith, but the act of planting seeds each spring puts that faith to the test. I know that since the very beginning, creation has been able to grow things from the ground and yet there is something about me doing it that seems impossible to believe.

This is my second year of working in my raised bed garden and because last year seemed to go so well I admit feeling a bit of pressure as I try to duplicate that success. I have done this before, shouldn’t I be able to do it again and even better?

A few weeks ago my family had the chance to go on vacation and as I looked at the calendar, I felt panicked. The week I would be gone looked like the week when I would have traditionally planted the seeds and all of the sudden the immediacy of what had to be done to succeed caused me to rush out over the course of a day or two and plant the seeds that I had a bit early, just so I could make sure that I would have the harvest at just the right time. 

When we got back from a week away, one of my first steps was to go out and see how many of the seeds had begun to sprout. In one pot, I planted teddy bear sunflower seeds for my wife. I was sure that they would thrive and when I looked in the pot I saw one tiny sprout. It just wasn’t going to work out.

I spoke to my wife with hopeful words about what might be, but inside I felt defeat. This year must be a disaster.

But the next morning, we went back out on our deck and where there had only been one sprout we saw several. The next day, even more. Okay, maybe it will work as it is supposed to work.

I keep thinking about expectations and what life will look like as the world continues to open up and as more restrictions are lifted. Just as over the winter I spent hours scouring gardening websites buying seeds, I imagine we’ve spent a lot of time building expectations of what life without as many COVID restrictions would look like. Some of the things that we dreamed of will come true, others perhaps pointed to a standard that will not happen in real life.

And just like my first encounter with looking at the sunflower sprouts, I am realizing that life “getting back to normal” will need to be a lesson in patience. Things will not happen as quickly as we’d like, but I believe that it will happen as it should.

The problem was never with the seeds, but with my impatience. The defeat that I felt in my mind was never about God’s failure to provide, but rather my lack of faith along the way.

I am so thankful for brighter days that lie ahead of us. In the coming days it will be tempting to expect that things will get back to normal right away. It will be normal to feel defeated when things don’t happen as fast as we like. We will have moments of discouragement when we realize that strengthening old relationships will take some time. It will be discouraging when post pandemic life doesn’t measure up to everything we had hoped. For me, during this time I will need to remember the seeds. All I can do is what I know best and trust in a God who makes all things new at just the right time in just the right way.

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