Our generation has been faced with an unprecedented challenge in recent months, but it is my prayer that this heart-wrenching season of loss will be one that builds resilience in us. For me, this time of quarantine, isolation, and distancing has brought to light the areas of my life that I took for granted – being able to visit family, meeting up with friends, travel for work, write in coffee shops, and more. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you relied on certain distractions and the luxury of being busy, but when that full schedule was suddenly empty, you were faced with hard truths.
In this time of anxiety and fear, I’ve done more to actively fill my mind with positive thoughts and surround myself with people who are not only inspiring, but also honest about the ways in which they are struggling. In a way, I feel as if being forced to stay inside our houses actually forced me out of hiding. I had to acknowledge the things that I needed: uplifting content that would challenge and encourage me, and community with people who would do the same. I have spent more time reading my Bible and digging into the reality of how God sees me rather than trying to control how I am seen by others.
My husband recently planted a garden in our backyard, and I have been trying to keep the plants and flowers alive. It has been teaching me a lot more than I expected it to. I have learned that gardening is much more complex than I originally thought. Tending to the herbs and vegetables has reminded me that growth requires patience. It also displays to me the fact that the livelihood of the plants is ultimately not due to my actions. The tomato plant produces a bud, and the bud turns into a flower, and the flower sprouts a tiny green tomato, and the tiny green tomato becomes a large red one. It is my responsibility to keep the plants alive, but even when I do all that I can, there is still more going on underneath the surface that I have no control over.
A friend recently quoted a line to me that I have recalled many times the past few weeks. She reminded me that a garden needs to be treated well in the good times – in the spring when the plants begin to bloom, and not just during the harvest. The weeds need to be discarded, the bugs removed, and the soil treated and watered. It is during these seemingly tranquil times when the garden is doing well that it is most easy for us to forget about it, letting the plants go to flower and seed so that they are no longer viable. This happened to me with my basil plant. I let it continue, thinking that it was growing just fine, but the flowers bloomed on the top and soon it won’t grow any new leaves. Just when I thought it was doing so well, I stopped paying attention.
It’s the same with our individual lives. We have to tend to our minds in the good times, so that when we are faced with difficulty, the roots of those seeds that we planted will stay firm. Sometimes it feels as if our daily walk with God isn’t important, as if we can let it fall by the wayside because things are good and there’s nothing we are getting out of spending time with Him. However, these times of calm are when we create habits that will sustain us throughout the hardships. If we don’t have this sure footing, unforeseen life changes can be more of a challenge.
Right now, we are in the hard times – the dry season – when our days might seem more difficult than they have in the past, but there is harvest to be found in our trials, too. The past several months have been a time of struggle for so many of us, a time when we were faced with circumstances that we never could have predicted. When we have gotten past the initial pain this time has brought, we will be able to look back on the ways that it shaped us and be stronger for it. Although sometimes it feels impossible to do, try to notice the ways that you are being shaped and pruned for the future. Fix your mind on what you know to be true. In the midst of an upheaval of our lives, we can cling to those things that never change: that God is in control, that He is good, and that He loves us deeply.
God wants us to tend to our relationship with Him in the good seasons so that we will be strong in the bad. He doesn’t promise that things will always be easy, but He does promise that He will be there when the state of the world feels hopeless.
We just have to go to the garden and meet Him.
Charlotte Pence Bond is the New York Times best-selling author of Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President along with two other books in the series. Her first solo book, Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street) was released in October 2018 and reveals lessons her father, Vice President Mike Pence, has taught her. She is a current contributor to Lightworkers.com and her work has been published in The Washington Times, Glamour magazine and featured in US Weekly, among other major media outlets. A graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Screenwriting and English, Charlotte contributed writing and production skills to the Emmy Award-winning documentary Fleeced (WFYI Productions). Charlotte currently attends Harvard Divinity School where she is a candidate for a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis on religious themes in literature and culture.