Spring has officially begun, and plants are beginning to grow, birds are singing, farmers and gardeners are preparing for a new planting season. If you’ve ever seen a field being planted or grown your own plants, you understand the first step before planting is breaking the ground up. Over time the soil becomes hard and compacted and is not good for nurturing seedlings or allowing plants to grow to their full potential. This can happen in people’s lives as well. As we contemplate spring planting, we can also apply this to our emotional and mental lives.
The hardness that people have inside can look like pride, fear, being closed to new experiences or new ways of thinking about things, not listening to others, avoiding healthy feedback and stubbornness. This hardness in our minds and hearts prevents new relationships, ideas, and sometimes even basic kindness from growing and flourishing. The same reason we break the soil before planting is the same reason, we have to work to break up hardness in our hearts. Hardness prevents growth, hardness diminishes flourishing, hardness dampens life. It’s easy to become hard because life can be difficult, there can be pain, hurt and trauma along the way. A natural response to these is to harden in protection against further pain. The real-life consequence of this hardness may be some level of protection but a lot more loss of opportunity, joy, fun, laughter, and life.
Becoming hard in reaction to the everyday difficulties in life is very normal and to some degree everyone does it. But, just because everyone does it does not mean it’s good for emotional or mental health. Breaking ground is hard work! This is true of literal planting as well as for beginning to do the emotional work of breaking up our hard hearts or minds. Doing the emotional work of breaking ground is allowing that openness to others whether it is a therapist, close friend, pastor, or spouse. This means allowing trusted, safe people to tell you where they see hardness in you, or where your reactions have been shaped by your experiences of pain. These reactions can come automatically if they’re not broken up and carefully considered. Most of the time the reactions of hardness are protection of our own pain which was never properly dealt with. These reactions inhibit our healing and our ultimate growth from whatever that original cause was.
The reason people plant veggies or grain is they would like to receive more veggies and grain from the seed that was planted. One tiny seed can yield many times what was put into the ground. Sowing and reaping are laws of life set for us by God himself. Galatians 6:7-9 tells us we reap what we sow. If we are sowing into hard compacted earth, we will automatically have a diminished harvest. Preparing the ground is done to ensure the harvest is full, bountiful, a delight in exchange for the hard work that was invested in the growing. Our lives can yield a bounty of good fruits, but we need to tend to the hard ground of our hearts.
God himself is willing to exchange our hardened stone hearts for real flesh hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). God will help us break up that hardness so whatever is planted is healthy, bountiful, and is a harvest to be grateful for. Our choice is the allowing. We get to choose if we allow the hardness to stay or if we allow it to be broken up to make way for life.