Seeds of Wisdom: The Lessons I’ve Learned from Growing Plants
Persevere in watering the garden of your life, and you will reap rewards from the good seeds you plant
Persevere in watering the garden of your life, and you will reap rewards from the good seeds you plant
Planting seeds and caring for the plants as they grow has gifted me some epiphanies and wisdom. We plant all kinds of seeds in our own lives with our actions, and we water those seeds with our daily habits and the things we spend our time on. Those seeds will grow and be ready for harvest one day, so we should be mindful to plant good seeds in our lives, and to properly care for them as they grow.
Late last year, I started a garden of sorts at my house. I knew just a tiny bit about the mental health benefits of gardening (working with your hands in the soil can actually make you happier — for real! Look it up!), but my main motivation was just for something to do in the yard.
I had a number of planter pots and seed packets left over from a previous abandoned attempt at making a garden. I resolved to take proper care of the plants this time. I bought some potting soil and thought about which seeds I should plant. I had flower seeds and vegetable seeds.
Flowers or vegetables? One looks pretty but is functionally useless. One looks ugly but will provide food. I decided to plant the flowers, thinking they’d be easier to care for, and they might help the bee population too.
Keep on Watering
I filled the pots with soil, planted the seeds, and set them in places where they’d get plenty of the sunlight they needed. I watered them every day, usually in the late morning. Unless it was raining (that is God watering the seeds), I watered every day with no exceptions.
Keep on watering the seeds, even when there isn’t any visible growth.
Some seeds didn’t show signs of growth for a month! But I never stopped giving them the water they needed. Finally, I noticed tiny little sprouts of green in those slow-growing pots, and I knew I had done right by continuing to nourish them even when I could see no results at all.
If you have some project or dream you’re working towards, that is a seed too. You need to keep watering those seeds if you want them to grow, if you want to harvest something from them later. You have to keep watering it, even when you see no growth, no results. Keep writing articles. Keep making YouTube videos. Keep designing graphic art, taking photos … etc. Whatever it is that you’re doing, keep watering the seed, and don’t give up.
That’s the important part right there: Don’t give up. Growth can be slow. Some of the seeds I planted in my garden sprouted quickly, others took a long time to even poke above the surface. By continuing to nourish them, to water them, I eventually saw tangible results.
Watering the seeds when you can’t see growth is an act of faith too. You know that something good is in that pot, you just can’t see it yet. You won’t see changes when you first start exercising, for example, but have faith that they’re taking place and keep doing it. Soon enough you will see changes in your body. So water every day without getting discouraged, and without getting impatient at the slow pace.
Good things take time. Baby steps will get you to your goal, so don’t stop taking baby steps towards your dreams. Slow progress is better than no progress! Each step taken towards a goal, no matter how small, is one step closer to that goal. Keep writing, keep doing art, keep streaming, keep watering your seed(s), and have faith.
We’re not growing these seeds alone; it’s a team effort together with God. I’m the one who pours the water (though I didn’t create or provide the water), while God provides the sunlight. We’re doing this together, but God makes it grow. And that goes for the other seeds I’ve planted in my life too.
I started writing on Medium in November (and I was gone all January while volunteering in The Bahamas, which you can read about here), so I haven’t been at this a long time. Not at all. So it’s fitting that I haven’t seen drastic results from this seed here on Medium. I have less than 50 followers as of this writing, and my lifetime earnings here are about thirty cents. No growth … yet. If I continue to water this seed, continue to post articles to Medium at the pace I create them, then I will see something come of it one day. With me doing the watering (writing) and God looking over it, providing it with growth, I know this seed will grow up one day and produce some harvest.
I doubt I’d ever make a living off of Medium alone, so it isn’t the only seed I’ve planted, and not the only one I’m watering. I have a garden with a variety of seeds, just like my actual garden in my yard. And that’s okay, because some seeds require more care and attention than others. I bought a cactus in a pot too; it really doesn’t require much from me.
Seeds Grow Through Adversity
You know what must happen to seeds in order for them to grow?
Seeds must get pushed underground, into the dark to grow.
Duh, right? I know it’s painfully obvious. But let’s just consider it a little.
Being stuck underground sounds terrible to me; that’s adversity. The seeds are buried in the dark, and if they want to reach the light they so need, they will have to push up, up through the layers of soil they’ve been buried under. They will have to overcome their obstacles, their adversity. Otherwise they die underground in the dark, their purpose unfulfilled.
But what does being underground do for them? They open up and grow strong roots. These roots give them the strength they need to reach for their light and head higher, up through the soil: Their adversity. This is a necessary ordeal for the seed; without this, it couldn’t form roots. Seeds must be buried or they can’t grow.
Just as there are various types of seeds in my garden, there are a variety of seeds that God plants in our lives too. Our adversity, our struggle is a seed that God plants in us. In the process of overcoming the obstacles in our life, we grow strong roots and push upwards, out of the darkness and into God’s light. This seed of suffering that we carry produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3–4).
It’s God’s plan that we should suffer adversity in our lives. We grow stronger by overcoming it, as He intended. That’s why God plants that seed.
Adversity teaches the most valuable lessons, and failure is an excellent teacher. A bad relationship can teach you how to avoid bad relationships, for example, if you contemplate the lessons there for you to learn. Even tragedies have something to teach us. Nothing is a total failure or loss, as long as you learn from the setback, and as long as you get back up and keep moving forward. Pain and suffering make you stronger, in the long-term.
As for the seeds that we plant ourselves, those must also be tested and proven through adversity. Want to have your career as a writer, YouTuber, whatever? Then what you create, your seed, must be tested and tried so it can become better. Your seed must go through a period when it opens up and grows roots, so that it has the strength to grow upwards. This is when you figure out your lane, figure out what you’re doing. Persevere through periods when there’s a total lack of response or success, such as not getting curated on Medium. If you get feedback, accept the adversity of poor responses and look for the (valid) criticism, contemplate your work, and use the insight to make better work. Learn how to write better, produce better videos, and so on and so forth as you go about watering your seed. And failure is not a terrible thing when it comes to these seeds too. The failure of a creative project, such as a YouTube channel, for example, can teach you how to approach that better in the future.
You Reap what You Sow, so Plant Good Seeds
There are lots of seeds we can plant in our lives, but not all are made equal. Some seeds will produce detrimental or unhealthy outcomes for us when they finally grow. The damage may only become apparent after a long time passes.
Sowing good seeds now ensures a good harvest in the future … and vice-versa.
If you spend decades smoking cigarettes, you are planting a seed with that habit. The seed you plant will take decades to grow … but when it does, it will produce a harvest of unavoidable health consequences; that is what you will reap. Something similar will happen if you have a habit of frequent hard drinking. You don’t see the damage as it’s occurring, because it takes so long to happen and isn’t visible to the eyes. But the everyday habits we have can plant seeds for our future, good or bad.
Have a habit of good exercise? Reap the benefits of good health now and a longer, healthier life in general. Have a habit of playing video games late into the night while eating potato chips? Reap poorer health now and a shorter, unhealthier (both physically and mentally) life in general.
Think about what habits you have and the ultimate long-term outcome they will produce. What harvest will you reap from those seeds? Remove the bad seeds; weed them out of your garden. Replace them with better seeds.
Quit smoking; start reading. Quit drinking; start exercising.
Habits are seeds, and they are also the watering of these seeds. The things you do daily will of course add up and produce something. The consequences (good or bad consequences) may take years to show. You won’t want to reap the harvest of health consequences from decades of obesity, for example, but when it’s time to reap your harvest, there’s no avoiding it. So weed your garden of the bad habit seeds now, and reap a healthier, more pleasant harvest in the future.
Each Seed Grows at a Different Pace
It isn’t good to over-water your plants, they can kind of ‘drown’ like that. One of the easiest ways to burnout on a passion project is to try to do too much, too fast. To try to sprint straight towards the goal and the rewards you envision there, rather than moving at an appropriate pace and learning as you go.
You can only move at the speed of your seed. Forcing things won’t work.
Be patient with the speed of your seed and keep watering. Maybe it’ll take a year before my writing attracts the attention that it needs to earn some money. Or maybe it’ll take longer than that. I don’t know how long it’ll be; I just know I have to water this seed appropriately and be patient with it. It’s going to take as long as it needs to take; if I tried to force it to be successful, that wouldn’t work because that wouldn’t be natural.
As I continue watering (writing), my seed will grow roots (a bigger presence on Medium) and my writing should hopefully improve as this seed pushes upwards towards the surface and the sunlight. Trying to force the success would skip over that growth, which is necessary. That would basically ensure failure, in the long run.
Prune the Branches
Once you’ve got a couple seeds growing, perhaps a few passion projects or something, then you’ll start to see some growth and results. Flowers will grow lots of branches, but not all these branches will perform equally well.
Prune the underperforming branches, so the rest of the flowers will do better.
Cutting off the lower branches that aren’t flowering well will cause the plant to only spend its energy growing the healthier branches, making the plant stronger overall.
Once our seeds start to flower, once our projects start showing some results, we will see which areas are underperforming. When we notice those, we have a chance to change things up. We can try to change or alter that aspect and see if it will bear fruit. This could mean incorporating the feedback we get on our creative projects, as a possible example.
Otherwise, we could cut that part away completely. That isn’t a bad thing! While it may mean a failure of that one part of your seed, such as a Medium publication you create not going anywhere, for example, you’ll still have the rest of the plant with all its flowers, so it won’t result in a failure of the seed as a whole.
Pruning plants keeps them healthy, and ultimately produces a better harvest from your seed. Just be mindful not to prune too much; some branches don’t need to be cut. They need time or something else.
Just as in a physical garden that you or I can plant, there are lots of types of seeds that we can plant. Seeds of finance, such as saving money for our future. Seeds of health, such as keeping and creating healthy habits today. Not to mention the seeds we plant of dreams and projects; a writing career, owning a successful business, having a YouTube channel, mastering a skill, all the different kinds of projects we want to tackle in our lives. On top of that, our daily habits are seeds too, and we are all planting a harvest with those. The variety of seeds is endless.
Even our personal, spiritual relationship with God is a seed. Some people don’t know how to plant this one, actually. You start by planting it with faith and belief; this seed won’t grow without those two elements, just like regular flowers won’t grow without water and sunlight. You water it by seeking God and trying to draw ever closer to Him day by day. This is accomplished in many ways, not all of which are self-evident. But a daily habit of prayer and reading God’s Word are critical elements to seeking a closer personal relationship with God, and these habits will take you far. They are excellent ways to water that seed. In time, you will feel closer to God and sense that your relationship is growing stronger (but that is a story for a whole different article).
There will also be that period of adversity as well, when God feels so far away or it feels to you like He’s not listening. This is the period when you’re seed is growing, but you see no growth. Have faith and continue watering the seed of your faith through prayer and the ways that work for you. You will feel God’s presence in your life again before long, you will see real growth soon enough.
Whether it’s literal seeds, a creative project, a good habit, or a personal relationship with God, whatever seeds we plant we must water and nourish them, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re growing, and even during periods of adversity.
And then, when it’s time, you will reap what you sow, only many times more. The harvest multiplies over time, and you will end up with more than what you planted. That’s why we need to make sure we’re planting good seeds rather than bad; when it’s time for our harvest, there won’t be any avoiding it. Plant the right seeds now, and the day of the harvest will be a happy one. Fail to weed out the bad seeds now, and the opposite will be true.
And never forget that, while you do the watering, God provides the life! God will be doing much of the work that you don’t even see, so pray to Him for help and guidance when you need it. God will hear you and show you ways forward. Any seeds that you plant for God’s sake in order to glorify Him, He will raise up and multiply into a bountiful harvest beyond your wildest imagination (Mark 10:29–30).