Gardening is symbiotic; the notion of growing anything, is generally relied upon something.
Soil needs water.
Roots need nutrients.
Plants need light.
But in that space, of relying on something else, also comes companionship. Companion gardening is a thing. Some vegetables can be grown side-by-side with other vegetables, as long as they're compatible; one can guard from pests, one can provide nutrients, one can give shade, one can support—companionship, within the garden, is a tool that increases yield in the space for all.
I’ve thought a lot about all that companionship lately.
Because I’ve struggled, lately.
I’ve really struggled!
I have been through some of my toughest emotional times I’ve ever been through.
A few weeks ago, I walked through the death of a longtime friend. We shared life together for over 40 years. I walked with him over the past months on the uncertain journey he was facing, and then held his hand as he slipped from this world to heaven. The journey was tough. Grief!
But it wasn’t just that. It was also how I had walked through the same with my best, best, bestest friend through her final journey, and held her hand in her last minute, just shy of two years ago, now. That long journey was incredibly hard. Grief! Sorrow!
But it wasn’t just that. It was also how I walked through a similar journey, two years before that, with a high school friend, of a decades upon decades friendship, in her hardest times, and held her hand in those final days. Grief! Sorrow! Despair!
Years-long-cycles of barely recovering, and then back in. Over, and over, and over, again.
Grief. Sorrow. Despair.
And it all hit hard, again, these past couple of weeks. Real hard! Like on my knees in my living room, crying so hard I was shaking…hard. Like driving and crying so heavy, I had to pull over…hard. Like numbly walking through routines, barely remembering I did…hard. Like feeling shattered beyond repair…hard. Grief! Sorrow! Despair! The utter feeling of loss, and aloneness, and finality, three times over so soon, with the closest, truest, deepest, most unique friends I had.
Grief, sorrow and despair—Companions that grow well together.
An unlikely companion to the others.
In the middle of it all, touches of Joy glimmered ever so slightly. Barely noticeable—barely; yet, felt, none the less. Between the muck of the up-and-down emotions, I could feel the unlikely companion to sorrow—Jesus. Something so perfect, against something so not. The Joy of Jesus. The comfort out of nowhere, the unexplained, the lifting when everything was falling—THAT Joy of Jesus. The One knowing the purpose of the problem, and the solution to the soul.
Sweet friends, how can I talk of heavy emotions without speaking of the lightness of a Savior? He met me, once again, and He can meet you, too. I know there are some of you in the thick of it right this minute. The passing of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, the silence from children, the lonely empty houses—it’s not just me.
To whom these words may ring true, I want you to hear this loud and clear—You are not alone! The despair you are facing has a companion—and it is Jesus! It is the Joy of Jesus. The Joy that He knows you, and knows your hurt, and knows the reasons, and the purpose, and He is by your side.
Hold on to that friends! Hold on to the knowing, so the showing can be done. Let Him show you the small glimmers of His Joy in the midst of the pain. If the only thing you can do right now is say Jesus—say it. And listen for His response, I am here.
Choose Joy, my friends. Choose Joy. Choose it for those times when everything around you is not. Plant it in your garden now. Plant it for the times when barely a glimmer can penetrate itself into the darkness that grips. Then cling to it for the comfort that it gives.
Joy—Jesus—the unlikely companion to the sorrows of life; the constant companion to the needs of our hearts.