Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Cultivate - to prepare, to loosen or break up the soil, to foster growth; to promote or improve growth by labor and attention; to develop or improve by education or training; to seek an acquaintance or friendship. To cultivate the arts means to encourage the arts.
Wow! All of that under the word cultivate. This word was used in our pastor's sermon on Sunday morning as he was expanding on I Peter 3:1-7. You probably wouldn't think about the word cultivate when looking at these verses, but it was in reference to what should be done for a wife. He expressed that her gifts should be cultivated.
Somehow, in the rush of trying to survive the struggles my family has been going through, I just stopped growing. Not that I didn't grow in size... I did, and not that I didn't age... I did, but I didn't grow. I started to justify NOT spending time cultivating.
How many times do women set aside their own growth to make sure the family is making it along the journey? Many will say that is why they work in jobs outside the home, so they can continue to grow themselves. At home, moms will justify their lack of cultivation due to their responsibilities as a mom, while believing this neglect is being spiritual.
My choice has been not to work outside my home, even though that work would have provided financial security and, at times, much-needed adult conversation. We chose for me to stay home, to home-educate and raise six children. In the early days of mothering, I seemed to know the importance of cultivating. This usually meant a trip to the park for the kids to play, while I ate up the contents of a book. Cultivating meant taking walks with one in a stroller and the others on bikes,which gave me added energy AND a trim body. I would also escape to my bedroom during lunch time to steal away and watch a home decorating show... this was before HGTV. Each of these things would re-energize me, cultivate me.
I enjoyed creating and, in my early mothering days, I had a cabinet built for my sewing machine in the same room where the kids could play, while I sewed. I had my own business, where I could remain at home and still create. This allowed me the opportunity of cultivating my love for interior decorating. My business never took away from my mothering of four young children. Yet, it enhanced my mothering skills because I was cultivating myself, while learning to raise my children.
I read books, books, and more books. I seemed to have four or five going at all times that cultivated my mothering, my cooking, my spiritual walk, my home education and my business. I took evening classes on different pursuits, while also attending conferences.
Each mother needs to cultivate the woman God made her to be. A woman has so many facets of her life and each one reveals rays of the beautiful light God intended for her to share.
Somewhere between raising and guiding the first four through teenage-hood, I stopped growing. We moved to a new city, which was good. But when my eldest started high school, the full schedule put a hold on all my cultivating. As any gardener knows, if you don't cultivate the garden, your crop yield will be less and the weeds will invade your plot of land. As I put my tools down in order to maintain our busy schedule and adjust to our ever-decreasing finances, I allowed the weeds to take over the garden.
So, when our pastor talked about a woman needing to cultivate the gifts God had given her and how that was a priority in his stay-at-home wife's life, I had a sinking feeling in my soul. I stated to someone recently that I felt "lost", not knowing what I was supposed to do. Yes, I still have three children at home and two still need me full time. No, I am not re-entering the work force outside of my house, even though I am at the age for an empty nest. What I am going to do is go before the Lord and ask how to pick up my tools. They may not be the same tools He had used to cultivate me before, because this time, I first need to break up the hard ground. I need to know WHAT He wants to cultivate in me, WHICH gifts are still on my shelf that need to be brought down and WHICH gifts He wants to reveal in me now.
It is so easy to have life nail us with curve balls and we let them sideline us. When this happens, we justify setting our gifts down, usually because we feel we need to or just don't have the energy or resources to continue them. As our pastor explained, this puts a new level of importance on a wife being cultivated and that it is just as important for his wife to be cultivated in her gifts as it is for him to pastor his large congregation. These are gifts that God has given to us, to be used for his glory, to reflect Him with the many facets that shine from our lives.
I will pick up my tools once again and look forward to this new season of cultivating the woman God made me to be, while continuing to be a wife and mother. I am believing that while I am digging up hard soil, my family will be enriched by the new crop.