by Branden DesCarpentrie

My wife enthusiastically plants a garden every spring.  She plans, buys supplies, and tenderly places plants and seeds into newly tilled soil… and then comes summer.  When it comes to the garden, summer seems to provide a constant source of contention in our marriage.  Her enthusiasm for attending the garden is curbed by other things… not bad stuff, just things that cause her attention to wane.  

Because her eye is diverted, I end up dealing with insects, weeds, flopping plants and other issues which have been overlooked for too long.  Her hobby becomes my hobby.   Normally this results in less than gracious discussions about responsibility and threats to never plant another garden.

Recently I found three tomato plants had been allowed to grow beyond the cages without any additional staking.  They had flopped over on the ground and were difficult to get upright without breaking stems, etc.  I went to the store, bought stakes, and spent an hour trying to stake and twine them.  Despite my hammering, sweating, and intricate web of twine and bamboo, the plants didn’t stay upright… they flopped, and so did my mood.

Believe me, while dealing with the prostrate tomato plants my mind was already planning a boisterous discussion with my wife.  I’d make sure she knew exactly what I was thinking.  Funny thing happened while sitting in the lawn compost, though.  Another voice entered my mind and proposed an alternative course of action.  This voice said to wait and cool down.  Sounds like James 1:19… be slow to speak and slow to become angry.  This time I obeyed the Holy Spirit.  I chose not to discuss the garden for awhile, and you know what?  In a few hours, I realized my goal in discussing the tomatoes was to condemn her.  This was a huge victory for me!

As I’ve shared in past blogs, my fruitfulness as a Christian has been hampered by anger and harmful words.  I have prayed over what the Bible says about anger, harsh words, and bitterness.  I’ve read books on the subject, listened to CD’s, and talked to mature believers in Christ about it.  Yet I often struggle.  I bet many of you have sins you struggle with too.  Certainly many of the people we mentor wrestle with sins that reduce their fruitfulness as a believer.

Following the Spirit and not arguing with my wife about the garden may seem inconsequential to you, but it is a HUGE victory to me.  God’s grace is helping me make progress in my battle with anger and harsh words.  When you mentor, look for those small victories by the mentee and point these out.  Celebrate the progress with them.  What an encouragement that will be!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)