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Watching Her Plants Thrive Helped Her Heal

Good friendships, and her beloved amaryllis plant, restored her faith after a difficult divorce.  

Four angels surrounding red flowers; Illustration by Lucila Perini

Pots of basil and tomato plants lined the patio at the house I shared with my mother. I squatted down to care for them and couldn’t help but remember the garden I’d left behind when I’d completely lost myself.

Walking out on my husband was meant to be a temporary solution. He needed time to address his addictions, and I had to face the unhealthy habits I’d developed in trying to manage his disease. I was determined to save myself and my marriage, and return to our house with the beautiful garden where we entertained in earlier, happier times.

I’d spent years creating our floral paradise—hibiscus, plumbago, lantana and my beloved amaryllis. That thriving plant had started with a single bulb, a present from my lifelong friend Jennifer. Every spring it bloomed and multiplied, and I shared the offshoots. The one I’d passed on to my friend Terri was proving to be as bountiful as the one Jennifer had given me years before.

It’s hard to believe that’s all a thing of the past, I thought, straightening the stakes in the tomato plants.

Things didn’t work out after the separation. During an ugly divorce, I threw myself into my job at a tax firm. I made myself sick, using my work to replace one kind of stress with another. After a scary appointment with my doctor, I had lunch with Terri. “I keep thinking of that verse in Isaiah,” I told her. “‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ But I’ve lost so much. It’s really hard to grasp that rest and trust in God will fix it all.”

“What do you think he wants you to do?” she asked.

“Leave my job,” I admitted, “and not put my health at risk. But my job is the only part of my old life that’s left. What do I have without it?”

“Well, your friends, for one thing,” she said. We laughed because she made the decision seem so easy.

Now, months later, on the patio with my basil and tomato plants, I knew Terri had been right. At first, I burrowed in and prayed, thankful for the solace at home with Mom. I journaled all the feelings I’d avoided by immersing myself in other people’s tax problems. I read a lot. Cried even more. Joined book and Bible studies at my church. Reacquainted myself with long-abandoned hobbies like quilting and sewing. Spent time with family, took day trips, and leaned on Jennifer and Terri, who stood by me through everything.

I reached for the gardening scissors to trim back the basil. Pruning was an important part of encouraging plants to thrive. As I tossed aside the wilted leaves, I realized God had lovingly done the same in my life. He’d helped me to let go of things that were no longer good for me and to focus on things that would help me grow. When I did go back to work, I knew I would find a balance.

I threw out my cuttings and went inside to rinse my hands at the sink. It was good to work in the soil again. Though I still missed my lovely amaryllis, I had promising tomato plants and fresh basil. I would no longer focus on what I didn’t have. I had too many blessings in my life for that.

The doorbell rang. I dried my hands on a dish towel and went to answer it. “Terri,” I said, “this is a surprise.”

“I brought you something.” She pulled a little pot from behind her back. A sprouting amaryllis bulb! “It’s from my garden,” Terri said, although I already knew that. From Jennifer’s garden to mine to Terri’s, the amaryllis had found its way back to me. And with good friendships, I had found my way back to myself. God had taken care of everything.

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