I am a plant serial killer. Every spring I go to the local hardware store and stock up on pretty flowers. I spend hours planting them, watering them, loving them. Every winter, at the first cold snap, they die.
In the spring and summer, my patio is a beautiful hideaway. A place where I can sit and enjoy my beautiful, blooming plants, smell my gardenias and honeysuckle. Butterflies flutter about, enjoying the nectar from the blooms. A lizard family scurries about its business. The dogs and I loll around, occasionally napping.
In the winter, my patio is a wasteland of dead and dying annuals and perennials.
One winter, one butterfly bush never made the transition from the plastic container it came in to a real pot. It was the only thing on the patio showing any sign of life, so I set it on a planter by the sliding glass door. The petunias in the planter were long dead.
All winter, once a week or so, I’d step out on the back patio and water the butterfly bush.
In the spring, as a reward for being the only plant to survive the winter, I finally planted the butterfly bush in its own planter.
A week later, I noticed signs of life in the petunia planter. As the days progressed, the signs of life grew bigger and started showing leaves. Big, fat, green leaves.
I was sure anything that looked that big and green must be a weed. But I hadn’t bought new flowers yet, so I kept watering it.
One day the most amazing thing happened. I stepped out on the patio, and the “weed” was covered in petunias! It wasn’t a weed at all! Somehow, for the first time in my plant-killing life, something survived.
Even more amazing? The leaves and flowers were even bigger and prettier than they were the year before.
With nothing more than cast-off, leftover water from the butterfly bush, the petunia not only survived the winter, it came back bigger and better than ever.
All summer, as I sat on the patio and enjoyed the abundance of blooms, I thought about survival, and unintentional blessings.
Happenstance caused me to set the butterfly bush over the dead petunias.
Laziness, really. That was the closest spot to the sliding glass door and required the least amount of effort for me to water it.
The petunia didn’t care about my motives. It didn’t care that the water wasn’t meant for it. It took what I gave it, and it survived. It thrived.
It made me think about people in my life who unintentionally bless me.
When my marriage ended, I felt a lot like that dead petunia. Thankfully, like my petunia, I had people who continued to “water” me. Most of them, without even realizing it.
One friend’s marriage ended because her husband cheated on her. She didn’t give up on love. She didn’t turn into a “man-hater”. She just kept on going, waiting for and expecting God’s best. Eventually, she found him, too.
My friend whose husband has always made her feel secure and desired. Age, weight, a few extra gray hairs or wrinkles. They are all irrelevant. They’ve been together since they were freshman in college. In over thirty years, she has never doubted his love, faithfulness or devotion.
There have been other times in my life when I needed “watering.”
A perfect stranger who saw me sitting in the mall when I was pregnant with Sweetness. I never knew her name, but I still remember her face and her sweet voice. She could tell I was upset. She sat next to me and asked me if she could pray for me. It’s been twenty years, but that prayer still blesses me.
It made me think about how I can unintentionally bless others.
I compliment strangers, like the cashier with the beautiful eyes. Random compliments from strangers are a lovely surprise.
I post positive messages in Facebook and Twitter. The world is negative enough without adding my negative energy to the mix.
I smile and wave at people as I drive around in my convertible. Have you ever noticed when you smile at someone, they automatically smile back?
You may never know how your actions affect the people you cross in life. Something you did twenty years ago may still have an impact today.
I was lucky with the petunias. When winter ended, I was able to see the results of my unintentional blessing. When you’re unintentionally watering people, you don’t always get to see the results. Don’t let that stop you, though.
Question: Who have you “watered” lately?