A Lesson From the Vineyard: Growth Through Struggles

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.

Sun setting over a vineyard with two wine bottles and glasses of wine with text overlay: "Strength comes from struggle. When you learn to see your struggles as opportunities to become stronger, better, wiser, then your thinking shifts from 'I can't do this' to 'I must do this'. ~Toni Sorenson

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!



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Table with grapes and two glasses of wine with text overlay: A Lesson From the Vineyard: Growth Through Struggles


    1. Oh VJ, I’m sorry to hear you’re in that ‘rocky soil’ right now. I know you have a lot on your plate. I wish there was something I could do to help. Sending lots of love and hugs your way sweet friend.

  1. “We grow more in the valleys than on the mountaintops” – smart man! Such a great perspective to take and I really like your plant-based metaphor here for our growth and struggles. I’d definitely agree. I’ve learned more, I’ve grown, I’ve become more resilient and independent and assertive, because of those struggles. That these struggles enable us to start prioritising those nutrients is an excellent point. What a positive, inspiring post, Terri! xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I’m glad you’re able to look back and see just how much you’ve grown through your struggles. It’s so hard to see any good in things as they’re happening sometimes, but it’s good when we can look back and see that those tough times were strengthening and growing us. Hope you have a great weekend! Hugs!

  2. Terri, you’re so clever. What a beautiful way to shift perspectives and understand that adversity also has benefits. I for one think we’re made of pretty tough stuff for all the adversity we face with chronic illness!

    1. Awww Mykie…..You’re far too kind! I agree with you that “we’re made of pretty tough stuff!” I think sometimes as we’re dealing with our chronic illnesses it’s easy to feel weak, or feel we’re not making any progress, but later we’re able to look back and see that those struggles we felt so weak through were actually making us into exceptionally strong people. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  3. What a lovely post. I think you just have to keep on going and take it day by day. For me it helps to keep a positive mindset, be grateful for what I have as so many people do not have a roof over their head and something to eat. Plus, there is no use in being negative as nothing good will come of it. If we really sit down, focus, take a breath and think about our situation, we will always find a solution.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Anna! I’ve found a positive mindset to be critical. So many people think keeping a positive mindset is all about pretending everything is perfect, but to me, it’s exactly the opposite. Having a positive mindset means that we realize things aren’t going to be perfect and things may not go the way we’d like, but we have an opportunity to look for the positives in whatever situation we’re facing. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

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