The Tomato Plant: 3
A Time for Everything
The Bible beautifully portrays that in life, there are times and different seasons for all the things we do on earth (Ecclesiastes 3:1-22). For many of us, we've had to endure seasons where we had to compromise to achieve lifetime goals.
Sometimes, the best option is to stay planted in an environment which is not as conducive as you gain strength through learning, e.g. fast food restaurant job while you study at university. It could be that minimum wage job that doesn't pay much, but allows flexibility while you raise a young family. A lot of people work long hours doing the kind of work they're more than qualified to do to save up for a project that requires a lot of money. Most immigrants from underdeveloped countries end up getting whatever job they can find in their new country and still very thankful. We all need to remember that the process to fruition is usually accompanied with exposure to uncomfortable yet necessary experiences. Sometimes, you have to stay planted in a place long enough to see positive results. However, you need to know when to move up or move on before you get stuck and that temporary situation becomes a way of life.
It means having the guts to take yourself out of an environment that no longer supports your potential growth. Thankfully, we're not plants and have the power and ability to make choices. I'd like to think that if you are reading this, you're in a better off situation compared to those in survival mode and struggling to receive basic needs. The more you wait upon others to determine when to grow in your career or relationship, the likely you are to be disappointed. Sometimes, the person standing in the way could be yourself. It could be your fears, past or even old belief system that no longer sustains you.
Bonsai Plant Moments
From a plant's perspective, the most significant threat to your existence is being in a place which is not flexible enough to sustain your personal growth and development. I have a friend who usually reminds me of the Bonsai plant each time we talk about restrictions and limitations. Bonsai is an art which originates from the East whereby the pot environment restricts a plant's size and growth. The plant's leaves are meticulously cut and shaped over time and transformed into a desired shape by the artist. For that reason, the artist chooses specimens carefully. You see, there are people out there who are untouchable to restrictors in life! People who know who they are and their worth are too much work for predators so they will prey on those who lack knowledge. I've learnt that abusive people pick their targets on a selective basis. How many times have you been given a hard time by a particular somebody yet they are especially nice to most people around them?
Unfortunately, some people have been 'chosen' as partners or employees because of their ability to conform to restrictive environments. The selected plants will not produce fruit, but the well-shaped result gives an overall sense of satisfaction to the artist. Your role might be to decorate a place, much like a trophy being used to convey a salient message of status symbol. It was never about you; it was always about what you could give to the grower turned Bonsai artist. You might have just enough to survive and maybe a little bit of exposure to light. They know that without those basics covered, you will cease to exist. In comes the shaping through words, actions or inactions depending on what they are trying to achieve.
You will be fed with words designed to make you forget who you are in the first place. You will be told that they're doing you a favour, that if it weren't for their ‘hard' work you wouldn't make it. They might remind you that they know what's best for you or that they know you better than everybody else, yourself included. Often people who resort to controlling tactics are so afraid to lose their prized possession and the only way to ensure your service or whatever it is you give is through control. They do it bit by bit, bonsai style until you don't even know who you are.
The most significant lesson is, if you don't get yourself out of that small pot even if you live by the kitchen window where you occasionally get a bit of praise once in a while, you will eventually wither and die. Slowly but surely. We all need encouragement and dread condemnation, but if all you get are words and not action then it's time to reconsider your options. I have a mother figure who once told me that they blessed their tomato plants and proclaimed nothing but right words of health and abundance. I too believe that words have the power to bless or even curse. However, I noted that not only were they endowing the plants, but they were also doing all the right things to nurture their crops; feeding and watering them at the right time, supporting stems and being on the look-out for parasites that could harm the plants. Their actions spoke louder than words, and indeed, they had a bumper harvest from a relatively small back garden. The last time I checked, they had so many tomatoes such that they preserved batches for future use. You too can fulfil your potential by doing the right thing at the right time. Plant happy, growers rewarded for their efforts!
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