I can’t say that I’ve ever thought of myself as an earthworm, but maybe I’m something like that. They can be a gardener’s best friend and a fisherman’s best attraction.
Changing the structure of my environment by ‘digging through’ hardened soil, plowing it up and allowing air and water to get to seeds and roots of plants, sounds like my kind of atmosphere. Being a ‘fisher of people’ is another of my desires in life.
The past months I have gained quite a collection of stories, each with a real human who’s needed some cultivating in the soil of their heart. When you work with the poor and the broken, listening well and finding treasure within them that offers value can make all the difference in their world. Hope can be a life changer. Handing someone who’s so broken a lifeline of kindness can bring transformation.
A 30 year old woman who was living in a tent in someone’s back yard was one of these. In 110 daily temps it wasn’t camping for fun, it was survival. In my city. This needed transformation. Communication with her was difficult. She had no local cell phone. I had to leave messages with a family member in another state. She got messages when she could call them. Then I got a call from her grandfather, a kindly gentleman who shared my faith values. He was grateful that I cared. We prayed together for her. Several weeks went by and finally I heard from her. She’d made the choice to go back to her family, break an addiction, leave an unhealthy relationship and take her second chance. Hope was a gift that brought a new life.
Another, only 15, living with a foster mom. Obstinate in her attitude and making it clear she did not want to be talking with me. The atmosphere in the room shifted when we began to talk about her desires for the future. She wanted to be an FBI agent. She’d already contacted someone in Washington D.C. She assured me she had the grades for it and worked hard in school. The treasure I saw in her was courage. What an amazing young woman who had been dealt some rough hands in life and had her heart set on a tangible goal. It was significant for her to be assured she had great value. It not only brought a smile to her face, but she opened her heart to me. Suddenly, I could hardly get her to stop talking. What a delight to bring hope and watch it change her attitude. Will it matter as life goes forward for her? I choose to believe it will. Like an earthworm plowing and softening soil that was once hard.
Every opportunity to pour life-giving words into someone’s heart is significant.
Many of these stories are divine appointments and I am intensely aware of their need when they come to me. Other stories have come from learning to see with the eyes of my heart in the more routine moments of life. I’m learning to slow my pace so I have time to care and really listen to the checker at the grocery store. The one I’m drawn to each week seems to have a fake smile and more fake “I’m fine.” The first time I initiated a caring conversation brought a bucket load of information and a thank you that was genuine as we parted ways. It really took so little.
Simple acts. Kindness. Listening well. Caring. It’s that bit of earth plowed and softened for seed planting. I don’t know who to give credit to, but the statement is true. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Many are much better at this by nature than I am. The ones that are ‘lovers of people’. I’m drawn to them to ‘garden’ together. I tend to be in a hurry, have my list for the day, brush others off without really seeing them, forget that kindness matters. But I’m learning. It’s a process of being intentional about my time and my own spiritual health. And I’m grateful for those with an eternal kingdom mindset who have paved the way before me, given me courage and loved me well.
Small earthworms in a garden can make a difference. There’s also intentionally planting, taking the time to water seeds and allowing sunshine to come through. Moment by moment. Person by person. Inching through hard dirt, bit by bit, softening and making the soil of each heart pliable, so seeds of love have a healthy place to grow.
But together, with those who have God’s heart, we can affect our world.
Copyright © 2016 Nadine Patton.
All Rights Reserved.