This past spring my husband and I planted some tomatoes, red bell peppers, jalapenos and habaneros, but between parenting, getting our kids to their activities, and work, we just did not have the time to weed and take care of the plants. By the time we went out to look at the plants, they were almost all dead and weren’t salvageable.
The sunshine and rain were in abundance, but couldn’t sustain the plants. By not taking the time to remove the weeds, the plants were overrun by weeds while the plants vainly competed to survive. This experience is also applicable to our relationships, what you put in will determine the output. If you neglect the people that matters to you and fail to let them know that you care in actions or words, don’t assume that they know or should have known. If you do not express gratitude to your loved ones, don’t expect them to know that you appreciate them. If you don’t spend time connecting with the people you love, don’t think that the connection you have will stand the test of time.
While the sun and rain were essential for our plant’s growth, it was also a food source for the weeds. When you neglect your relationships, you create the perfect conditions for the weeds of life: seeds of despair, distance and divorce to take root. Our plants needed nurture from us, but the weeds did not need us to do anything for them to take root, grow and blossom. They simply filled the vacuum left by the lack of nurture. Bad seeds like weeds don’t need much to survive. They just need the right opportunity and a host to take root, they are opportunists!
If you deprive your relationship of love and affection, you are cultivating its death. No one does this intentionally, it usually just happens. So when the seed of discontent is planted, it fights hard to kill the seeds of joy, happiness and peace you have worked hard to plant and if care is not taken, the relationship will begin to wilt and die. Bad seeds are like viruses, they need a host and they multiply very quickly. Beware! Our lack of attention to the plants that we took the time to plant created an environment for the weeds to grow, thrive and kill the plants.
Despite our best intentions to grow our food this summer, we failed. We failed because of lack of focus, becoming too comfortable, and developing a sense of entitlement that the plants will just grow, after all…they are resilient, and they had sun and water. We postponed every opportunity to just go out there and weed. While many relationships and marriages start off with joy and optimism, optimism and joy aren’t adequate to keep it going. Without intentional nurturing and care, marriages fail or stop thriving.
Many times, we provide excuses for neglecting our relationships the way I provided excuses for neglecting my plants. We cite our jobs, children, tiredness, and life routines for our lack of attention to our relationships. Some of us throw money vis-à-vis gifts, some of us have a new baby with hopes to jump start it, some of us emotionally disconnect, some have affairs and some simply do nothing.
Whether it is a plant, a marriage, parenting, friendship, you often get what you put into the relationship. If you are not saying it and showing it, then you might be neglecting it and will ultimately kill it. The truth is this- It is easier to live in apathy than to live with intention.
I ended up with no harvest this year, not because I did not care about my plants, not because the plant did not have the will to survive, but because I neglected it, for that, I must take responsibility.
I encourage you to pay attention to the relationships you are neglecting and ask yourself these 3 questions. “Do I care about this relationship? Do I want it to die? What am I willing to do to make it better TODAY?” Then like the Nike tag line, Just Do it!