Are you struggling right now? If so, I hope you know you’re not alone. 2020 has been a banner year, and not in a good way. I originally wrote this a couple of years ago, but I thought maybe we could all use a reminder that our struggles can help us grow. One of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr. Charles Stanley, often says that “we grow more in the valleys than on the mountaintops” and I have personally found that to be true. So….I hope you enjoy this little reminder that we can grow stronger through our struggles.
The Rockier the Soil, the Sweeter the Wine
One day as I was watching a movie, one of the characters made the statement that the best wine came from grapes grown in rocky soil. Being the naturally inquisitive (okay, nosy might be more accurate) person that I am, I decided to do a little research. Guess what? It’s true.
This was really interesting to me because as a gardener, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure my soil is in great condition for the plants to grow. I try to do everything I can to make it easy for them to produce beautiful, healthy vegetables. If I don’t, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be shopping at the grocery store instead of in my back yard, so the idea of plants thriving in poor soil is almost a foreign concept to me.
Why would a plant actually produce better from poor soil? Well, I found a couple of reasons. First of all, in this type of soil, roots have to branch off to gather nutrients. This serves two purposes: it increases the surface area of the root, allowing more nutrients to get to the grape, and it helps regulate water absorption. Evidently, if the grapes get too much water, the flavors of the grapes are diluted. Secondly, good drainage is a must for grapes to do well, and rocky soil drains better. Here’s where it gets really interesting though. When a grapevine has to struggle for survival, it prioritizes where the nutrients go. Instead sending all the nutrients to the leaves, it sends them to the roots and to the fruit, resulting in those beautiful, flavor-laden grapes.
What Do Wine Grapes Have to Do With Me?
Like those wine grapes, we may find ourselves planted in “rocky soil” from time to time. During those times, we’re forced to prioritize our “nutrients,” those things that help us thrive, such as a healthy diet, adequate rest, exercise…..all of our self-care activities. We learn what’s really important, and we also learn that it’s okay to let those things that aren’t so important go.
And like those grapevines that are struggling to bear fruit and growing stronger from the struggle, we grow stronger each time we’re able to say, “I made it through (you fill in the blank).” It’s probably not what we would have chosen, but we can choose to channel our energy and resources toward things that are going to benefit us. We can grow stronger, not just in spite of our circumstances, but because of them.
Keep Growing Those Roots
Each step we take forward, no matter how small, moves us forward and makes us stronger for the next step, and moving forward under adverse conditions just amplifies that. The more we direct our energy to those things that are beneficial for our well-being, the stronger we become.
We may not always feel it; in fact, there may be times when we feel weak, or feel we’re not making progress, or that life just keeps throwing one thing after another at us and we’ll never get where we want to be. The truth is, though, if we’re continuing to put one foot in front of the other, doing those behaviors that move us toward better wellbeing each day, we’re well on our way.
When we stop and look back at all the struggles we’ve come through, we can see just how much stronger we’ve become and how much progress we’ve made.
Do you ever feel like those grapes struggling in rocky soil? How do you make sure you prioritize your “nutrients”? Please share!