I always know when my cyclamen needs water because it looks like this. A subtle hint wouldn't you say?
It amazes me that I give it a little water and a few hours later it's back to normal.
I think people are the same way. Sometimes we feel a little droopy like my plant. Maybe we had a hard day, maybe we've made a lot of mistakes, maybe life is kind of getting us down. Someone comes along and gives us a little water in the form of a hug, a compliment, a gift, a listening ear, an act of service- or any kind of love. We perk right back up, ready to face the world, ready to overcome our weaknesses, ready to make a difference and do some good. With a little water, we feel refreshed and are able to grow - taking steps that we need to change areas of our life that need changing.
I respect and admire people who go about their life sprinkling those around them with love. They water wherever they are, content in the garden that God has placed them. I sometimes wish that I could make a BIG difference - to be someone like Mother Teresa or Ghandi or these people that gave their life in the service of others. Then someone shows me love by a small, kind act and I realize that I don't have to wait to make a difference. A big difference is made up of a multitude of small, simple, seemingly insignificant acts. The key is to do them consistently wherever you are, whether you are up or down, in desperate need yourself or wealthy as can be.
It's hard not to let your own insecurities get in the way of showing love. I've always been very shy and reserved, which has made it hard for me to reach out to others. It's only been in the last few years that I've realized that shyness and self-centered-ness sometimes overlap and I think I've been guilty of the latter and to some extent blamed it on the former. I've found that both can be overcomed by immersing yourself in the business of watering those around you, whether it's comfortable or not.
And in our watering duties, let's not overlook the ones closest to us. Our families should be the ones we water the most - showing love every day, multiple times a day. Sometimes I find myself getting out of balance in this area - and in my goals to water those around me, am blinded to the opportunities available to water my own family. I have to remember to stick to my garden - the opportunities and experiences that I've been given.
I've also been guilty of getting out of balance in the other direction - putting so much focus on myself and my family that I neglect to water those around me. I think our garden includes anyone within our influence - neighbors, friends, co-workers, people we meet as you go about our daily duties. People that limit their circle of influence to include only themselves and their family members are really just a small step past self-centered-ness. I was trying to think how to explain this and I came up with these pictures.
This one describes self-centered-ness:
This one describes the next step up from self-centered-ness: family-and-self-centered-ness if you will.
And finally I think this one describes the ideal: family-centered service & love. Focusing as a family on outward service and focusing on love and serving within the family as well.
In summary, just like a plant, those that we water in our gardens of influence will grow and bloom with love. When we water those around us with love, we also grow and bloom. It works both ways, isn't that neat? I'm grateful for the garden the Lord has put me in. I have such wonderful people that I know and that influence me for good in so many ways.