A few years ago, I sustained a tough relational injury. A friend of several years and I were suddenly and dramatically on the outs. I had tried everything I could think of to reconcile the situation, but my attempts were all in vain. Eighteen months passed with no words between us … such a strong connection we’d enjoyed, and then poof—it was gone. I still loved this person. I still cared for this person. I still longed to call this person my friend. And yet it had become clear to me that by continuing to reach out when he clearly didn’t wish to engage might make an already tenuous situation far worse.
At about month nineteen, I was standing in my flower garden in front of my house, picking weeds and watering plants, when my phone rang. Gardening is cheap therapy for me, and I find that the neater my yard looks, the neater my inner world tends to be. I answered the call and heard my friend’s voice on the other end of the line.
As we exchanged benign greetings in that awkward way you do, when silence has distanced you for so long, I happened to be watering a mound of dead foliage. In Colorado, you can stick a perennial in the ground and expect it to do well for about a year, even as it probably will not come back. Our soil is terrible, our winters can be long and harsh, and outdoor miracles are rarely seen. I remember thinking, “Why am I wasting precious water on this pile of shriveled-up leaves and stubs? This flower is not coming back …” I was having this conversation with myself when my phone began to buzz.
Twenty minutes into the restorative, forgiveness-drenched conversation that had been nineteen months coming, while I was still resting on a rake in my front yard, I absentmindedly kicked over some mulch on that plant I just knew was dead, and that’s when I saw it: the tiniest of tiny green shoots. It felt like a nod from God: “What you thought was dead isn’t dead, Brady. I’m Master of all-things-new …”
Even as a young boy, I remember being fascinated with nature, with how trees could go to sleep and then, a season later, wake again. When I ended that call with my friend, I thought about winter, and spring. “I’m so glad I didn’t discard that relationship in wintertime, when everything’s cold and bleak,” I told Pam. “I’m so glad I waited on springtime, when things always come back to life.”
God is a God of springtime, the Bible promises. Behold, he is doing new things.
This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Remarkable, which releases in the Fall of 2019.