We are now in day 186 or 6 months facing our ‘New Normal’. This has been a journey where, for as many people you speak to, you will hear a different method of how they coped or not.
As sanctioning rules are lifting and shifting, to ‘wear a mask or not wear a mask’ is now the question of each day. For some of us, our resilience to unveil our protected self to those outside of our families, neighbours and video meetings grows weaker day by day.
How we maintained a system or structure over the last 6 months will determine how well we face our ‘Coming out’ after COVID 19. Having your temperature taken before attending the dentist, opticians and hairdressers are just few of the services where a new system has become mandatory.
Adapting and forming to new routines and practices for the unknown has got to be the hardest structure of all – I will put both my hands up to this!
Speaking with individuals saw a common theme has emerged; each day appears to be merging into a few hours. We are subtly forming habits by conforming to the merging hours of each day.
To form a habit can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days. Our current 186 days will have seen more than halfway towards newly formed practices becoming a default. We still have time to reform those ones we are liking, questioning and absolutely wanting to get rid of.
A habit that has become the new trend in gardening. Working or shielding at home allowed space and time to not just see but enjoy its rewards. Lockdown came at the back of winter which was perfect timing for planting seedlings, plotting veggie beds or painting fences. We were putting in place a structure to ensure our unofficial holiday would see our domains, picture-perfect both inside and out.
In the home, it’s the garden where conflicting attention is needed all year round, as we are planting and then digging up what we had planted. Each season is required to ensure that our patios, balconies and landscaped acres are fully maintained to reach its best potential.
As with our mental well-being, how we maintain it is totally reliant on our systems and structures throughout the seasons of our lives. What we plant, when we plant and where we plant and who supports us take some planning.
You play a critical role in what is growing in your garden. Matthew 13:1-29
- What we plant – Have you noticed that weeds ‘appear’ in our gardens without our consent? They cunningly arrange themselves amongst the seeds you have carefully laid and aligned. Behaviours and attitudes are seeds we acquire or are conditions we adapt by our environment or care-givers.
Like in your garden you have to watch for weeds and root them out as they appear. Be aware; be very aware they are oftentimes strong and beautiful flowers. If left to mature these plants intrinsically produce self-seeding fruit when disturbed and can prove to be a challenge when trying to dig them ALL out. They also take up assigned space, suck the nutrients out of your soil and stifle your purpose planted seed to fail or not reach its full potential. What seeds are developed/developing in your purpose?
- When to plant – Timing is essential to sowing seeds. Planted in the wrong conditions and or season will determine its future progression to ripeness in what we harvest. When to water and how much is required can also make a big difference to the seed developing. Are you investing time and energy into planting ideas that will not have enough time to mature or distract you from nurturing your purpose?
- Where we are planted? – Seeds do well when planted in the right areas of your garden. As plants require the sun to undergo the process of photosynthesis the method used to feed the plant. So too do we need the Son to provide the energy required to provide the nutrients essential to feeding our spiritual and emotional development. Know where you are planted. Are you positioned in the shade without the Son and therefore not living to your best potential?
- Who is supporting? – Most saplings require protection during the initial stages of planting and progress to having a stake, cane or frame. Different mechanisms are designed to support for certain periods and purpose. They are central to establishing growth in a particular direction or added strength until its roots and stability are capable to withstand the elements on their own. Who do you have supporting your spiritual and psychological development?
As the garden needs our constant attention so too do our mental well-being require regular care to creating positive practices and behaviours.
How we learn to adapt and form positive habits and structures are dependent on the environment we are planted and supported in.
Here are some tools useful for a productive garden and a healthy mind.
Hoe – a tool used to cultivate the soil and remove weeds, requires physical work with persistence. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV
Dibber – Identifies where seeds and bulbs are to be planted which requires planning and precision. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Secateurs – strong scissors for the removal of small branches, shape shrubs and small trees. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2-6
Gardens play a big role throughout the Bible it was one of the first jobs ever created for man. God knew, not only would this be to sustain our physical requirements in terms of food and fitness. This responsibility would intrinsically provide all the elements vital for a healthy mind. All through the ages, we are drawn to colours, shapes, sizes, textures and views that we are unable to grow weary of admiring.
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease Genesis 8:22 NIV
Be an active part of God’s design and beauty by structuring and noting what is in your garden of mental wellness.
The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail – Isaiah 58:11 NIV