Saturday, June 23

tomato plants and compliments

Right outside, on our cozy, hot patio, is a pot garden. No, no, not the incredibly lucrative marijuana pot garden, but a small, round pot filled with two tomato plants, a rosemary plant, and a basil plant. We love-love margherita pizzas at our house, and buying fresh basil each time I get a craving would put us into debt. Rosemary (that's her name, too) was given to Alex as an Easter new job insurance promo? gift at work; she was our first addition to the family. The two tomato plants are courtesy of my adopted aunt, Jeanette. I hastily decided to bundle them all together and see how they might grow. Needless to say, I didn't have much hope for the tomatoes because our average sunshine on the patio comes in at around 5-6 hours, and tomatoes blatantly advertise their need for 10-12 hours. Basil and Rosemary, however, love company and I knew they would do quite well. (Perhaps you can see that they have all flourished...)

Because they have become part of the family and because of their generous gifts of flavor at mealtime, I care for them so dearly and check on them each time I step onto the patio. This includes but is not limited to, taking the dogs outside, leaving for the gym or work, stepping outside to see the crazy weather, checking on our crazy-loud neighbors, or simply to look at the pot garden. Any time I see these plants droopy, lethargic, sad, wilted, or discolored, I know it's time for a drink. Because of our 100 degree days, this happens nearly every day. Even Alex knows when it is time to douse those babies with agua.

And just in women's group this morning, a lady (wife, mom, friend, sister, relative, etc. etc.) was talking about how drained she was last night. She had spent all week giving and fixing and holding and calling and organizing, and finally she realized she didn't have anything left. She felt so guilty to even think that she could ask someone for a compliment (her Love Language is Words of Affirmation). All she needed was for someone to tell her she was still great and she would have felt renewed. So, she turned to Facebook; she created a status of need, asked friends to respond, and then promised she would take it down so she wouldn't look needy. (Facebook, 1 point.)

First of all, I gave her an A for recognizing what would fill her bucket (pot, if you will) back up. She spends all day and every hour and each week filling other people's buckets and now hers had gone empty. I don't know one woman who doesn't experience this. We have this innate, God-given desire to take care of and manage and help with every person and every situation, giving our pots full opportunity to go bone-dry any moment. Realizing that you need some water in your own pot is recognizing who you are as a woman.

Secondly, I think there are two kinds of women--the women who will always ask for and get what they need/want, and the women who feel too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for anything, so sometimes they get what they need, but rarely get what they want. I too fill up with compliments and good words sent my way, but for some insane reason I can't seem to accept a compliment when it's handed out. Either I throw in a small, furry creature known as the "ya-but", or I reject the compliment internally.

The problem is that it needs to be okay for me to say, "thank you".

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

This verse hardly changes between translations. 'Let' is always the first word, and let means 'to allow', 'to accept' or 'to allow to pass through'. God is saying "Hey, ALLOW that person to compliment you, let the compliment pass through to you. They see Me in you and that is compliment worthy. I created you and that is compliment worthy. You are living and breathing with a Christ-like heart and spirit and that is compliment worthy.'

So not only does it need to be okay to receive words of affirmation, but it really is okay. Just like it needs to be okay for me to say to Alex, 'please do this for me today, because today I just can't', or 'can you tell me this today because you mean it, because I need it'. And it needs to be okay to tell your boss or your friend or your neighbor that something has offended you or pushed you to your limit. It needs to be okay to tell your children that you need a quiet moment or a great big hug. It needs to be okay to be a woman--completely human--and say that you have a need.

And guess what? It is okay. It is perfectly preferred that my plants get droopy and pathetic, because that tells me I need to care for them. Yes, it might be even better if I could just care for them before they get to that point, but sometimes life gets busy and other things get in the way of my sight for them, so it is okay for them to tell me what they need.

It is okay for me to be a girl and a woman, a whiner and a crier, a helper, a joyous person, a giver, and a needer. There is nothing on this earth that I can handle all of the time and always on my own, and recognizing the need for God, for my husband, for my parents, for my brother, for my friends, and for others around me, simply allows me to recognize that I am human, I am fragile, and I am imperfect. And anytime you allow yourself to be humble, you are allowing yourself room for genuine, perfectly acceptable compliments, and space for your pot to be filled.

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