Last year, just before my wedding, I got really intentional about watching my weight. After all, I wanted to look good for my pictures! For six months, I watched what I ate, I exercised, and checked my weight on the scale every couple of days. About two months before the wedding, I weighed myself and I had lost 32 pounds. I was so excited because I was about 10 pounds from my goal. But after stepping off of the scale that day, I also lost part of my motivation.
In my mind, I had two months to lose ten pounds and I was convinced that it would be easy. So I started cheating every once in a while. But soon my occasional cheats, turned into cheat meals and those cheat meals turned into cheat days and those cheat days turned into a cheat lifestyle. And while I looked good for my wedding pictures, by the time our wedding came along, I had not lost the ten pounds. Soon after that, I lost all motivation and within three months I had regained all that weight.
I was tempted to just give up on ever losing weight and let go. But like most, my New Year’s resolution became to lose the weight again. Once again though, I would lose motivation pretty quickly. I wanted fast results. I wanted to keep eating the same way and lose weight. I wanted to spend more time on the couch and lose weight. I wanted to snack in the evening and lose weight. But as we all know, losing weight doesn’t work that way.
The reality was that if I wanted to lose weight, I had to do something different than what I was doing.
In Luke 13, Jesus tells this story:
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ The gardener replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
I can relate to both the gardener and the owner of the vineyard. If I have stuff in my life, I expect them to bear fruit. I expect my budget to help me save money. I expect my roof to keep me dry. I expect my vehicle to get me from point A to point B. I expect my phone to connect me with people. I expect my AC to keep me cool.I expect my lawn mower to cut my grass. I have expectations of my stuff.
But if we want our stuff to meet our expectations, we have to invest into them as well.
I believe that the gardener gives us a great lesson as to how to do this. If we want our stuff to work, we must nurture it; we must “dig around it and put manure on it.” In other words, if I want my AC to work, I have to continually upkeep it. Because if I don’t, it will not produce as I expect it to. If I want my roof to keep me safe and dry, I have to do maintenance work on it so that it lasts longer. If I want my vehicle to take me from one place to the other, I have to do oil changes and check the tire pressure and maintain it. If we want our stuff to work, we have to do maintenance work on it. We have to nurture and cultivate our stuff if our stuff is going to produce any fruit.
But there is also another thing that this gardener reminds us to do: give it time. Notice that he did not ask the vineyard owner to let him dig around the tree and put manure on it and if it didn’t bear fruit by the next day, then he would cut it down. This gardener asks for a year of taking care of this tree before they even considering getting rid of it.
You see, if we want something to produce fruit in our life, we have to care and nurture that “thing,” whatever it is, but perhaps more importantly, we have to give it time. If you want to lose weight, start exercising, choose healthier meals, and get plenty of sleep. But know that you won’t lose the weight overnight, it takes time. And when you reach your goal, you have to keep taking care of yourself if you want to maintain that level of health.
If you want to become better at your hobbies, or work, or a certain aspect of your life, start going to conferences, get training, ask for help, let others teach you. But know that you won’t develop your skills overnight, it takes time. And when you reach your goal, you have to keep fine tuning your skills if you want to maintain that level of ability.
If you struggle with anxiety, depression or any form of mental illness, go talk to a counselor (as someone who has not only struggled with depression, but benefited from counseling, I am a huge advocate for this). But know that you won’t overcome your struggle overnight, it takes time. And when you do overcome, you have to keep taking care of yourself if you want to maintain control of your struggle.
If you are searching for life and purpose, I promise that you will only find true fulfillment of that by deepening your relationship with Jesus. But know that you won’t do that overnight. It takes time. And when you finally feel like your relationship with Jesus is on track, you have to keep going deeper if you want to not only maintain that level faith, but go as deep as you possibly can.
We all have goals and dreams in life and it is so easy to get disillusioned or to believe that maybe these goals and dreams are not for us. But I promise you that, if like the gardener to the fig tree, you dedicate yourself to nurturing your goal and give it time, you will meet those goals.
Whatever your dreams and goals are, I want you to hear this. None of those dreams and goals will help you experience true life and purpose. They are all temporary fixes for a permanent longing. But if you choose to deepen your relationship with Jesus, I promise that everything else becomes conquerable. The best place to begin is by nurturing your relationship with Jesus.
As always you can reach out to me by replying to this email. I would love to connect with you and talk some more.
Together on the journey,