Isaac planted a little sunflower seed in a pot and put it on the kitchen window sill. He has watched and watered and grown excited as the plant has germinated and grown. The other day, Isaac was dousing it with water.
"Not too much," I warned. "Plants can die from too much water, just like they can die from not getting enough."
I went on to explain that letting the soil dry out between waterings helped the roots grow deep and strong. "When we move the plant outside, it won't be strong enough to survive if it hasn't grown strong roots and it will never reach its full potential."
I reminded Isaac about his broken arm and how his repaired bone is stronger than the original bone because of the work it did to heal. This seemed to make sense.
As I sent my boy out the door to the school bus, I thought about how that same thought applies to kids too. As a parent, I need to allow my children to struggle. If I provide them with their every need, want and desire, it's the same as over watering a plant. Their roots will be shallow and when trials and challenges come, they won't be able to survive on their own.
I think it's natural to want to make things easy for our children. It's hard to watch them struggle. It goes against human nature to sit back and let them work things out when we could so easily alleviate their suffering. Sometimes it seems like loving = giving, and giving, and giving. Just like Isaac wanted to water his plant every day, regardless of need.
I wondered if I was over watering my children, or letting them develop deep roots. Because someday, I'll need to transplant these little ones out into the big world and I want them to be prepared. I do not want them to be house plants forever.
After that, my mind took one more leap. It was an uncomfortable leap because it came with an understanding. Heavenly Father has the exact same desires for me. He wants me to reach my full potential and the only way to do that is if I am challenged and if he allows me to struggle.
Growth hurts. Sometimes I think I'm perfectly fine being a little house plant, thank you very much. Keep me indoors at a constant temperature, away from the storms. But Heavenly Father is perfect and knows I need to dry out between waterings.
I guess that's why He's often called the Master Gardener.