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An Important Lesson for Life & Gardening from an Organic Farmer

Yesterday afternoon, the girls and I had a chance to join with a couple other families to learn some gardening basics from a local organic farmer who goes to our church (and teaches our 4-year-old’s Sunday school class!). Mr. Rod did an amazing job of teaching both the kids and adults about gardening, and I was struck by how applicable many of those lessons were to not just gardening but also to life.

For example, after a few failed attempts over the past few years, I had pretty much resigned myself to not ever having a garden. While the savings for our family could be fairly significant (since we spend anywhere from $35-50/week on produce), investing time and money into a garden just to have it fail is so discouraging.

What I realized, though, was that I needed to apply my thoughts on failure in business or goal setting to gardening and life in general as well.

Hearing from a farmer who still occasionally experiences failures when he tries new things was an encouragement to me to see that as part of the process rather than as a reason to not do it at all. He had all the kids laughing as he held up his thumbs to show that he didn’t have a green thumb either, and we laughed even harder when my friend’s 6-year-old son piped up, “Um, I think that’s an expression.”

Whether in gardening, business, motherhood or life, failure is inevitable. It happens to the best of us, and it will continue to happen again and again, especially if you’re trying to grow and learn new things. You could see the failures as a stop sign, or — better yet — you can see them as stepping stones to success and learn from them instead!

Mr. Rod went on to share the verses from Ecclesiastes 11:1-6. I love that these verses highlight how agricultural endeavors have always been uncertain. The wise embrace the risk knowing that if you don’t try, you might not fail, but you won’t succeed either:

In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;

For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.

~Ecclesiastes 11:6

Similarly, when I’m tempted to get discouraged because I’ve snapped or yelled at the girls again, I want to apply this lesson as well. It’s worth apologizing to them. It’s worth trying again. It’s worth learning more about my triggers and how I can better manage those to do better next time.

Whether you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage, trying to lose weight, starting your journey as a homeschooler, discouraged by your attempts to eat better, or growing in any other area of life, it’s worth investing in them, even if success isn’t guaranteed. Don’t let your past failures discourage you, but look for lessons to help you as you pick up and try again!

What area of your life leaves you feeling discouraged by failure? Can you turn those failures into stepping stones instead?