tomato_seedlings_in_paper_potsIn honor of summer, we’ve been looking at a few life lessonsĀ from the garden.

Once you’ve got your seedlings started and the soil prepared (as discussed in previous weeks), it’s still not quite time to put the plants in the ground. Not only do you have to wait for the weather to warm up (especially here in Colorado), but the baby plants need a period of hardening off before they can survive the harsh world.

Young and fragile plants raised in the protected environment of a greenhouse can go into shock when exposed to the real world. They need to adapt and acclimate to their new surroundings through increasing periods of exposure to the outdoor conditions. This gradual process thickens the surface of the leaves and prevents excess loss of water later.

What’s that got to do with my life?

Well, some of my dreams (like my writing) are fragile seedlings. And if I launch them into the world before they are ready, they may wither and die when exposed to the harsh red pen of editors. So, I expose my ego and writing gradually. A writing group here. A critique partner there. A conference appointment. A contest. My skin gets thicker and I can withstand the winds of correction and criticism.

It reminds me of a story in the Bible when God delivered the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Instead of leading them along the shortest path to the Promised Land, God led them the long way through the wilderness. Why? Because they would face war on the other path. And facing difficulties so soon might make them turn back instead of go forward. (See Exodus 13:17-18)

(While this originally posted in 2010, you can find more Devotions From the Garden on the Books page.)

What about you? Do you have fragile dreams or thin skin in areas? What can you do to “harden off” the seedlings so they can survive the elements of life?

Hardening Off For Survival
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