Written by Donna Bowles
“But you, O Lord, be not far off: O my strength, come quickly to help me.” Psalm 22:19
Spring is the season that used to be my most favorite — that is, until ten years ago. It’s not that I don’t still appreciate the beauty of the flowers, the trees and the signs of new life all around. Rather, it’s the reminders of that spring that come up each year. I remember the times Mike and I had on the patio as he rested and admired his handiwork. I remember my husband that spring, looking out of the window above the flower garden he had planted when he was healthy, admiring all the beautiful daffodils. I remember the spring morning he died in our home, and I remember sitting on the patio that afternoon surrounded by family, friends — and his flowers. It has been a huge challenge this spring to maintain the flower garden; there has been a lot of rain and not much free time. Many mornings, as I made my way up the walkway to my car, I looked at the huge garden on both sides of my walkway and was overwhelmed & discouraged. Having a job with summers off, I knew eventually that I’d have time to tend and weed but — in the meantime frustration was building inside of me. I complained out loud to a friend and she recounted my words back to me a few weeks later — then came the guilt for not appreciating the wonderful gift my husband left me. Finally the other day I was able to have a chunk of time to dig in. The task still looked daunting, but I was determined to get going. I was busy weeding away when I heard a man walk by and say, “I like your garden.” I looked up and said “Thanks.” He said, “I know it’s a lot of work…a battle against the weeds” – then he went on his way up the street. I had never seen the man before, but he gave me such a gift with his words! I felt as if God had used him to encourage me in that moment – to let me know that what I was doing mattered to others as well and not just me. I know the real ‘weeds’ I battle sometimes are the weeds of discouragement and sadness — not just in my garden tasks, but in me. I know I have come a long way, by the grace of God, in ten years — but I have come to a place I never expected to be. I did not think I’d be alone in this season of my life without Mike living life with me. The empty nest we both had celebrated is much emptier than I’d expected. “But God…” He has shown me that I am not alone in this walk. He has been and is faithful every moment of every day, and He has prepared me “for such a time as this,” as I have met many women who have lost their husbands and need to know that they, too, will be okay. How could I be of any help to them if I did not pull the weeds and replace them with God’s promises? So every spring I keep doing the next thing and the next thing — until I pull all the weeds and am able to have the joy on the outside as well as on the inside. Oh, and the weeds; they keep coming back. I just have to stay on top of them, so they don’t take over the garden — or me.