Friday, July 13, 2012
You Reap What You Sow
This photo was making its rounds on my Facebook feed the other day. It's profoundly true--relationships just don't happen. We reap what we sow.
This idea of "reaping" and "sowing" is an archaic one for most Americans. We go to the store and buy our fruits and vegetables--never putting a seed in the ground and waiting for it to grow. That's sad really, because the illustration of the principle of reaping and sowing is so powerful.
Both of my sets of grandparents were gardeners. They taught me this lesson in tangible ways, but I know this applies in all areas of life.
Principle one: You reap WHAT (or in kind) to what you sow. In other words, if you plant a corn seed you should NOT expect watermelon to pop from the ground. Anyone, even those without a green thumb, would understand that. So why do we not understand that in other areas of life? If you want deep, meaningful relationships, you have to sow time, patience, and friendship. You can't go about your life investing only into yourself and expect to have real and authentic friendships. It's like expecting a watermelon to grow from a corn seed. What you put in, you will get out.
Principle two: You reap LATER than you sow. This is not an overnight process. When my grandparents planted their garden a lot had to happen. They had to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, and water it daily. The sun, soil, and water had to work together. The seed had to die, actually, for the plants to establish roots. It was not an overnight process. It took months for there to be any fruit of their labor and time to show.
Likewise, our relationships with people take effort. LOTS of effort. It is not passive effort, either. It is intentional effort--preparing the "soil" of your heart for healthy relationships, planting the "seeds" of relationship by investing what you want to reap, "dying" to oneself (putting your interests behind others), and "watering" through investment of time. This principle is true of romantic relationships and also platonic friendships. For a large and healthy crop, we have to invest our time into people.
Principle three: You reap MORE than you sow. One little seed will yield a large crop. By planting one tomato plant, my grandparents would reap dozens and dozens of tomatoes. The investment in the one seed will reap more than you can imagine. This is a great principle as long as you like what you've sown. All three of these principles are true whether you are sowing GOOD things or NEGATIVE things. If you sow selfishness, you will reap that in return as your relationships fall apart. Likewise, if you sow friendship and love, you will reap a harvest of that in return.
Last week I got to reap some of the harvest I'd sown in college and beyond. My good friends, the "N" family, came to visit. I invested my life into Susanne (and she into mine), and now I am encouraged by her friendship and marriage.
Then my two best friends from college, Dana and Natalie, surprised me with a visit as well. If you've read my previous posts, you will know I've miscarried twice in the past year. They knew I was feeling down and wanted to encourage me in person. They took time away from their families and drove 5.5 hours to come see me for the weekend. I got to reap some of the time and encouragement that I'd sown into them over the years.
TRUE heart friends are my harvest. I know, though, the harvest didn't just happen. I am reaping what I have sown. I did and am continually intentionally investing in what I continue to sow, knowing that in time I will reap the benefits of it.
Good relationships just don't happen. It's true.
What are you sowing right now? If you don't know, look at what you are reaping. If you don't like what you are reaping, ask yourself what you need to sow to change that.
Relationships--an investment into people--is, in my opinion, one of the best thing you can sow. It might mean giving up things you like or time you would normally spend on yourself, but I know what the harvest will be.
And I know I need more of that in my life.