My name is Rebecca Barlow Jordan, and I am a _________aholic. I could complete that sentence several ways.
How would you fill in that blank personally?
At different times and different seasons, here’s how I might characterize myself. I am a:
How Do You Define “aholic”?
But then, how would you even define the term, “aholic”?
According to Miriam-Webster’s dictionary, it means “one who feels compulsively the need to (do something)” or “one who likes (something) to excess.” Well, that puts things in a whole, new light. I like to think my “compulsions” are of the healthier kind.
I post a variety of gardening pictures and spiritual, encouraging thoughts on Facebook and talk often of my gardening love in my blogs. This season, particularly, has fostered my love of gardening, probably due to the generous rains God has orchestrated. Some seasons, like life, haven’t been as productive. But that’s okay. I’m a sucker for those bargains at nursery centers–you know, the plants that are bending over, gasping for breath. And each Spring I declare, “no more plants; no more flowers.” But if I buy perennials, I rationalize they’re an investment–they’ll come back year after year with many returns (and spreading profusely, I might add). And even a few annuals always add bit more color–and beauty.
Guilty for Gardening?
I was feeling a little guilty about my love for flowers and gardening (ok, and yes, the bargains), the time I spend outside in this “season,” and confessing my “bargain habit” when a friend of mine, Ava, wrote this on one of my Facebook garden pictures: “Just look at it like this. You are a foster mom to plants that have lost hope.”
I LOVE that! Thanks, Ava.
But her comment did more than that. It reminded me that God wants us to enjoy His creation, and that we can have a part in “creating” by “breathing” life into the raw materials He’s given us to work with. Her words were a reminder of why I do what I do. I hope the things I enjoy, like gardening, writing, or loving my family are not just for me–or what I can get out of it–although I’m a firm believer that our motives will never be 100% pure this side of Heaven. I wish. Because I love these things, am I a gardenaholic, a writeaholic, etc.? Do I feel a compulsive need for them? Do I like/love them to excess? Maybe. Maybe not. Should I be doing something more…productive, lasting? world-changing with my time and energies? Am I to move beyond this season?
A God-Given Compulsion?
But here’s the thing. Running through my roots is the, okay, compulsive need to encourage, to pass on, love without apology, and yes, even to spread a dollar as far as it will go; hence, the bargain hunt. But there is also the desire to foster, teach, and give encouragement to those who “have lost hope”–to those whose ragged leaves need a fresh touch, to those who need to know Someone bigger than them cares, loves them, and thinks they are beautiful. I like to think that’s a God-given desire–as long as He is the One in control. And there are many ways God will give me in life to do that.
Years ago, when I was asking God for ways He could use me, I “heard” Him sweetly whisper in my Spirit: “Add my beauty. Write my words.” So that’s what I like to do. No, that’s what I love to do. I like to think my love for flowers and gardens stems from a need to create, just like my love for writing, teaching, or encouraging wants to create beauty with words. Because God gave that to me. To me, gardening is like painting a picture of beauty, if possible, that can point people to our Creator. And it’s a way that I can worship Him privately as well–to be still, and know that He is God. And besides that, I simply enjoy the fragrance, color, and beauty of God’s creation.
My actions are not always that noble, I confess. But the “compulsion,” or my heart’s desire is, that the time and effort I invest will not stem from an excess, but a reason.
Because of Jesus’s love for us, because of His passion to encourage us, lift us up, capture our hearts completely as His own precious ones–we, too, can share that same passion in a thousand different ways.
I want to add His beauty in the way He created me for–and to leave my corner of the world better than it was before. I fail so many times to do that–but Jesus keeps loving and nourishing me as if I were that ragged plant. And I am so grateful that He does.
“For Christ’s love compels us…” (2 Corinthians 5:14, MSG).
In the same way, I want to love my husband and my family because they come first, because God created them as a part of His beauty for my life. I don’t know what the future years will bring–or take away. So while I can, I want to add God’s beauty–and value to their lives. My husband, my children and grandchildren are precious gifts to enjoy, to invest in, and to love. They are rare treasures I thank God for daily. If that love for family is compulsive, then, call me a familyaholic.
Stop, Drop, and Pray
When you need to know where God wants you, or if you’re in the right place, stop, drop and pray. Then listen.
Where has God placed you? What “loves” has He given you? If they are from God, and used for Him, they will honor Him and encourage others in your path. You are a part of the beauty God created, and you can make a difference for Him just as He designed you to do. You may be wired to teach, warn, encourage, love, lift up, pray for, serve, give, or lead–however He designs for you, but it will be helpful and God-driven when you are compelled by His love.
You see, genuine love is never excessive; it’s extravagant (and excellent). It’s never conditional; but it is compelling–because God put it in your heart. Love is not grating; it is gratifying, grateful, and guilt-free.
No matter what you do, where you serve, or where you place your energies, let His love compel you. Whether you teach, change diapers, perform surgery, or mow yards, add beauty and share Him generously, and in big ways and in small ways, leave your corner of the world a better place than before. And enjoy what you do!
The season of Springtime will pass again, and the hot summer, then cold winter will follow. One season will find us in different places at different times. But in everything we do, we can find joy and purpose–and the knowledge that God has ordained it–even in the challenging times.
God will define your place, your work, your words, and your activity in a way that will honor Him.
All of us, in our own way, can bring encouragement and foster hope to others who are desperate for Him, one by one by one–and the returns will come back year after year and spread profusely.
My Prayer for You
Lord, I’m not the only one who struggles with simple issues I’ve made complex. In the same way You have loved me, may Your love compel me and others to truly enjoy where You place us–no matter what the season in life. Help us to bring encouragement to others in big and small ways, for the world desperately needs Your beauty and hope. May we only be “addicted” to Your love, intent on bringing You honor and praise because of Your faithfulness to us. When You are in control, it’s all good. And so are You!
How has God helped you know where He wants you? What things do you enjoy most in life?