I’m not writing much anymore. My focus is shifting. Attention, a bit waning.
I wonder why, too? Although, I suppose it’s because I wander too much around my world and worries. They always seem bigger. Larger somehow than God. Than His goodness and my purpose.
Though maybe it’s just a season, since there’s one for everything? Or, maybe I’ve wandered too far off, never to return? Or, I’ve simply not seen the fruit I was certain would come from such an endeavor? Or from life, in general, honestly.
You know, I had a pair of trees planted in pots on my patio once. One lemon and one lime. It’s always been a dream of mine to have citrus on hand. But it took a couple of years before either bore fruit. And then, only a few grew on each, for only a couple years each, because some type of bug infested them both despite my best efforts at trying to defeat those pesky insects.
Although, truthfully, that crop was better than the tangelo tree that was in the backyard of this house when we moved in over twenty years ago. While still a rather young tree, I knew it was likely some type of citrus having grown up in Central Florida. Unsure exactly which variety, however, I asked a friend with plenty of experience in the field.
And after receiving a confident “It’s definitely a key lime tree,” I set out to become an expert key lime pie baker for all my future gatherings and guests. True to form, or maybe because I’m a natural born procrastinator, I decided to debut the first ever key lime pie attempt over a weekend visit from our closest friends, from whom we’d just moved away.
Unfortunately, and to our collective pallets’ dismay, it never dawned on me to try the filling before chilling, then serving, that newest pie creation of mine. The bitter looks on all our faces said I had way more than a little work to do in order to perfect that pie. Our looks also made clear that recipes should probably be taste-tested before serving.
Embarrassed and disappointed, though completely undeterred from my goal, I mentally back-tracked through each step, trying to figure where I’d likely gone wrong, while tossing that bitterly sad pie in the trash. I then committed to perfecting my key lime pie the following year, long before serving it to a soul, since I’d used up all the tree’s fruit in my first attempt.
Fast forward to about the same time the next year when only one, sad little fruit appeared on one sad little limb of that key lime tree. I was bummed, yet still clueless about citrus trees, and began to wonder why this particular tree was in such pathetic condition. In hope though, I waited to see if any more fruit would appear. However, the longer I waited, the larger and lonelier my one, green fruit began to get. And the more yellow in color. Until it actually began to turn a true orange tone, and more fully grown.
And while watching this change take place, and being ever more grateful that my baking skills weren’t entirely worthless, I started to get very excited about the possibility of having an actual orange tree, as opposed to a boring, old key lime tree.
See, as a kid, literally growing up in the middle of orange groves, I have more than a few fond memories of that sweet, sticky juice sliding down my little girl forearms, burning any cuts or road rash along the way. And I got ever excited at the thought that my boys could now go pick oranges from their own backyard and have similar memories.
Forever the sentimental sucker, I am.
And as the days dragged slowly by, that lone fruit only got bigger and more orangier. (Yes, Friend, today that will be a word.) Though I realized I actually had no real idea when exactly to pluck oranges from the tree, since I’d kinda lost my sense about such things all those years later.
Until the day it was obvious, because that orangier piece of fruit looked to be weighing down its puny branch to a breaking point. So with just the right amount of
drama fanfare, I called my boys out to watch me pick that perfectly, orangier orange. You see, the Super Mom that I was then wouldn’t dare risk them picking, then dropping, my only orange on the ground, or worse, tearing the thing half off with only half effort!
Sometimes we just have to learn by watching! Or, at least that’s what I told myself often in my constant Supermom-rush of life. Mostly now though, this idea resides in my more Seasoned-Supermom category simply entitled, Regret. Though I’m a bit off topic…
So back to then, when you couldn’t tell me much I didn’t know, and back to us three trotting back inside after I’d secured that one orange, fully intact and unscathed. And into the kitchen, then straight to the counter we went, where I started to grab a knife and cutting board, because oranges are notoriously hard to peel.
But, I stopped myself mid-way, deciding instead to show these boys of mine my true bonafides as a Central Florida kid. And turning the orange around to the side opposite where it connects to the tree (again, I only know how to eat the fruit, not its anatomy), I took my thumb nail and plunged it into the part of that tough, textured skin where there’s just the right amount of give, releasing all of its sweet aroma and sticky juices, then began to peel.
But, to my surprise, the peeling came easy. Way too easy to be a true orange. It was more like a tangerine with how it peeled. But, it was bigger. And then I remembered the tangelo. What I knew to be one, anyway. A cross between a grapefruit and tangerine and also my most favorite of all citrus fruits. And I was simply thrilled. We didn’t just have any old citrus tree, I reasoned. We had my most favorite citrus tree! My life felt more complete than ever. Even if it had only produced one tangelo that season.
Because, there was always the next year!
Until there wasn’t.
Yeah, I know, right! I wanted a happier ending, too. Sadly though… Life happened. And also death happened, since there was no more fruit to be had on that tree that following year, or the final years of its life that came after. Eventually, we cut that tree down.
But we just never know when fruit will grow on trees, so I lived in such hope for those last few years. Plus, I really wanted tangelos in my life. Heck, by the time we were forced to stay goodbye, I’d have been ecstatic with a key lime tree. Because, truth is, I despise cutting things down. Every tree we’ve had to cut due to root systems or foundation issues or disease or even just because they were ugly and unwanted, was like an actual death to me.
And as I’m writing all this, it occurs to me that there are way too many life parables in this tree story. So many applications to life and living in fruit trees and all trees and such. Which is probably why this has all come to mind!
See, the deeper truth is that I hate cutting anything at all down! Same with tossing and throwing things out. I’m a saver and too dang sentimental for my own good. Relationships and dreams and plans and my momma’s old costume jewelry or tupperware from the seventies or the birthday card my six year old signed his name to. You know, anything at all with meaning. Which is everything. Regardless of the why’s.
And, you know what else? I had no idea what I was even gonna write when I sat down to pen my feelings today. It’s just been such a hard growing season for so long around here, and I needed to vent, because I don’t really feel like I have much else to communicate about. Goodness, but I haven’t even thought about that key lime, turned orange, turned tangelo tree in ages!
Because He meets us where we are every time, doesn’t He?? He’s just so faithful. Even when we aren’t. We just have to keep our heart eyes open to what He’s up to.
Even when it feels like living is impossible and fruit is invisible and death feels around the corner.
Which honestly is a concept I’m still getting used to. That God’s ways are not mine. That He’s able and capable and everywhere. That He’s in everything. That there are no coincidences in life because He’s always trying to draw us to Himself in every circumstance. Build us up in Himself through all we go through. Bring His Kingdom to earth through His children. Produce, in us, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in keeping with repentance.
And even though I’ve started quite a few posts lately and can’t seem to finish a one, let alone see fruit flowers blooming, I really don’t want to stop writing altogether. Even if it feels void of purpose, growth, or fruit. Because it helps me. It helps me process this world and God’s ways. And if there’s even one small chance that it helps one person at one point in their life – even after I’m done and gone from this life – then it will all be more than worth it.
So… what I guess I’m saying is that I don’t want death to come to my writing. Just like I don’t want death to come to the seeds I’ve planted in my family and relationships. I don’t want to cut something down just because it seems fruitless today. Because there may still be fruit coming tomorrow!
But, if not, and that’s simply the season I’m heading, then so be it. God is in control and only time and He will tell. None of this is a bit about me, anyway. It’s all supposed to point back to God. Even my silly stories or sad tales or sagas of suffering.
So until it’s clear, maybe I’ll just hush up, keep replanting, sowing more seeds, and keep hoping?
Keep pushing forward in words and in prayer. Keep meeting God with my offering. Because none of this was ever my idea to begin with! Only His. And as long as I keep sitting down to jot thoughts, and He keeps meeting me with words, then it’s a win.
And while many of my current todays are sad and hard and I’m void of ideas and feel a bit lost… And while lots of life has been this way for what feels far too long… And while I know it’s my bent (and stronghold and nature, and temptation) to see and focus on the worst of things… to keep seeing the sad in things… to keep staring at all that’s sad and breaking, I know I am slowly and steadily learning to look instead for God’s work in the midst of all the worst, more and more every single day. Looking for God’s work in all things! Looking for more of God while He’s working out all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called into His purpose.
And, because He is good and worth it, I will strive to make sure and see all the potential good fruit in all the struggling, because it’s all worth it. Nothing will be wasted. Even if there’s only a few pieces of fruit here and there. Even if the fruit isn’t quite ripe. Even if it’s just one, sad and lonely piece right now. Even if it’s not yet to have appeared.
Even if the whole tree dies and I have to plant a new one.
Because God needs His Church to live and walk in hope for what will come, not stay stuck in our past, obsessed with our present, or, worse yet, paralyzed by the worst case scenario.
So God, give me the vision of the good, pleasing fruit that’s sure to come by faith! Fruit that’s sure to be bigger and better than all the sad, suffering deaths or disasters or desires that plague and threaten.
And even if all the trees up to now have not produced the crop we’d hoped to see, there’s always hope in the next one we plant or take ownership over.
So help me, God.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.Habakkuk 2:3; 3:17-19
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.