By Nora O. Lozano
Some of my most important possessions are my plants. I love them! Even with my limited knowledge about plants, I always try my best to take good care of them. I inherited this love for plants from my mother. On special occasions, I like to give a pruning of one of my plants as a gift. For me, they are a way of connecting with the other special person or a reminder of that special event.
There is one particular plant, a schefflera, that has a singular story. My seminary roommate and good friend, Heather Musselman, gave it to me. It has been with me for more than 32 years, and has moved with me five different times. When my family and I made the big move from New Jersey to Texas, I made sure that this plant was with me in the car and in a good spot. Thankfully, it survived the four days of driving and hotel stays.
For thirty years, this plant was in the same pot. For me, it seemed to be happy where it was. However, it never grew or changed (picture 1).
One day in the fall of 2019, my daughter Andrea, who is much better with plants than me, and knows much more about them, told me that the plant needed a change. Thus, she suggested to repot the plant and to place it in an area with more light. I found a good, beautiful, larger pot, and we proceeded with the replanting and the repositioning of the plant.
As my daughter and I did all this, I was afraid that maybe it was too much of a change for the plant, and that perhaps it was not going to make it. However, I also recognized that the presence of some constant elements could provide some stability to the plant amidst change – maintaining the same watering schedule, utilizing part of the same soil, and moving it to in a new area of the same room. These elements made me feel hopeful about a successful transition.
To our surprise, after thirty years, the plant started to grow in different directions. In four months, it developed like never before. There was a particular branch that started to grow down, towards the floor. It was getting so big, that it was getting in the way. One day in January 2020, I decided to redirect the branch. I bent it carefully, and tied it to another section of the plant. After three weeks, I was not only surprised, but amazed at the growth of the plant (picture 2).
Over the following months, it continued to grow and grow, and now it provides a beautiful natural decoration in my house (picture 3).
As I observed the transformation of the plant, I could not help it but think about our lives as Christians.
As human beings, we tend to be happy in comfortable and familiar places. This situation, even though it may feel really safe, may lead us to a life of mediocrity, where things are just “fine.” However, God wants more than “fine” for our lives. God wants the best for us.
As God prepares us for this improved life, we, like my plant, may have to face changes. At times, these changes are smooth and welcomed, but most of the time they are hard and rough. Part of the difficulty with change is that often we fear it due to the uncertainty that it brings.
As I observed the transformation in my plant, I also recognized how the stability of some familiar elements, such as its watering schedule, soil, and new location within the same room, helped it to survive the change. In the same way, as we face welcomed or unwelcomed changes in our lives, we need to remember how in the middle of change, the presence of constant elements in our lives can bring us a sense of stability.
One of these elements is our spirituality, our relationship with God. If we are rooted in God through a good, close spiritual relationship, we will be able to not only survive, but we will thrive in the face of change and challenge.
Another constant element that may help us as we face new situations is our family and friends. Those people who are around us, supporting us with their presence and words, and cheering us along the way.
While it is true that change may produce uncertainty and challenges in our lives, it is also helpful during a transition to look back at our lives and remember that God has promised to be with us, to walk with us, and to guide us regardless of the circumstances.
Every time that I reflect on a change in my life, even a small one, eventually I am able to see God’s hand guiding the situation. Perhaps during the transition, I was unable to see God clearly, but with time and reflection, God’s presence and plans became clear in my life.
As we keep journeying through life, with its inevitable changes, we must remember that God is always present, luring us into something better, and moving us closer to the best life that God has planned for us.
As we do this, let’s continue trusting in God and living in a way that is faithful to God, to others, and to our calling. And who knows, in time we may end up pleasantly surprised with the result, perhaps as surprised and delighted as I was to witness the impressive development and growth of my plant.
Nora O. Lozano is executive director and co-founder of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute and has been involved in Christian theological education for more than 25 years.