Today I have another young writer to introduce! Her name is Emma, and she shared a special story with me, a story about a houseplant. As I read this story, I was surprised to find some impactful, personal lessons about spiritual growth tucked into it.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised though—the Bible holds so many lessons for us wrapped up in plant metaphors. We learn about faith by reading a parable about a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), a psalm about a tree planted by a stream (Psalm 1:3), and a letter to a church about fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
What can you learn from the houseplant sitting by your window? Read on to hear Emma’s story.
What Keeping a Houseplant Taught Me About Growth | A Guest Post by Emma Thrasher
I have a plant in my room.
I keep it in a little glass jar full of water next to my window—it’s just a baby plant, so it’s not old enough to be potted in real dirt. That’ll come later, once it gets bigger and outgrows its current home.
Now, I am not a plant girl. Sure, I love walks in forests, and flowers are pretty, and I like gardens—the idea of gardens, anyway. But taking care of houseplants? I’d expect the poor thing to wither and die before the week was out.
But my friend persuaded me to try, and she gave me a jar with a plant that she called “a string of turtles” inside. It was kinda cute, so I decided to take on the challenge.
That was a few months ago. The plant hasn’t died—in fact, it’s healthier than ever. And it’s growing.
For a while, I couldn’t tell that it was growing at all. I was sure that it was barely staying alive, since I couldn’t see any sign of change. It looked the same every day.
But gradually I started noticing new leaves popping out. A tiny new stalk started to poke up, one that was a fresher green than the others. I wondered if it was just my imagination—but eventually, the growth became unmistakable.
Through taking care of my plant, I’ve learned a lot, and not just about gardening. And what I’ve learned has helped me be patient regarding my own life.
Do you think you’re growing?
I don’t mean physically—I mean mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Do you feel yourself changing, being sanctified? Are you growing?
Or do you feel stuck? Discouraged? Like you’re not making progress no matter how hard you try?
If you relate to the second one, friend, then read on. This is for you.
Growth is slow.
Often, I get impatient with myself. “I’ve been struggling with this for years,” I’ll think to myself. “Shouldn’t I be better at it by now? Am I making any progress at all?”
If you’re a Christian, then your salvation is secure because of Jesus’s death on the cross. It’s not based on your works—you don’t have to be perfect to be saved, because the punishment for your sins isn’t going to fall on you. That’s the grace of God.
But part of being in Christ is the process of sanctification. Sanctification is your growth in righteousness and holiness. The Holy Spirit works in you so that you become aware of your sin, and gives you the desire to get rid of it.
Unfortunately, that desire doesn’t instantly make you perfect.
Sanctification is a work of the Spirit, and it takes a long time. Like, a lifetime. And it can be extremely frustrating to see your sin and feel like it’s never going away, no matter how hard you try!
But just because you don’t feel like you’re making visible progress doesn’t mean that you’re not making any.
My plant didn’t grow super quickly, remember? For at least a month after I got it, I was still convinced it was going to die. It took a long time before I knew for sure it was growing.
You aren’t going to be perfect right away. You might wonder if you’re even changing at all.
But growth is gradual, friend. Hold on to Christ.
Growth is steady—but it also isn’t.
I didn’t have a problem accepting that growth was slow. Lord willing, I had a lifetime, and I knew that things would get better as I grew. As long as I knew I was making steady progress, I could keep going with satisfaction.
But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
Growth in the Christian life is irregular. Sanctification doesn’t go in a smooth upward line on a graph—it’s more jagged. Some days are good days, and some days are bad. Sometimes you feel a wonderful closeness with God, and the very next week, you’ve forgotten about Him completely.
And this can be frustrating! You might feel like all your efforts and prayers are pointless—like you’ve been working so hard for so long, but you’re just not seeing any fruit.
This is when we need to rest on the promises God has made us in the Bible.
Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Growth isn’t steady. It’s irregular. There are ups and downs.
But even though it’s not steady in one sense of the word, in another, it is.
God has promised that He’s going to finish the work He started. No, you don’t always grow at the same rate—but you are always growing.
So when you feel discouraged by your sin, pray about it, and continue fighting the sin that you see in your life.
But also remember that the Holy Spirit is working in you, and He isn’t going to stop.
Your journey is your own.
My plant isn’t dead. It’s still really small, and right now it’s kind of droopy-looking. It’s not big enough to put into a pot yet, and it definitely doesn’t look like it belongs in a Pinterest picture.
But it’s alive. It’s mine. It’s real, and it makes my bedroom a little bit more beautiful.
And I know that over the next weeks and months, it’ll just get stronger, bigger, and prettier.
Your journey isn’t going to look like anyone else’s does. It’s unique to you, and only God knows what your life will hold.
So when you don’t feel like you’re growing, be patient. The Lord’s timing is better than ours.
And if He has begun a work in you, friend, He will complete it.
About the author
Emma Thrasher is a 17-year-old writer from North Carolina. She’s a redeemed sinner who wants to use her life for the glory of God, and knows that even though she fails all the time, God’s grace is sufficient for her. She’s passionate about stories, productivity, and the rationality of the Christian faith—all of which play into her dream of eventually becoming a published author! Connect with her at her blog, Roses of Grace.
I love this, Emma. <3
Nicely done! I agree sometimes it feels like I’m just going backwards or stuck in one spot, but when I look back over years, wow, God has done so much (and yet there is still so much more ahead). Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for this beautiful reminder! The Lord’s timing is always right.