Bio: Lauren Watt is a young adult Christian who has been in an intense battle with Babesia and Bartonella, Lyme disease co-infections, since 2015. She runs a website, Lauren’s Easel, where she sells her artwork and blogs regularly. She lives at home with her parents and her feathered and furry friends, and she has two older brothers and a sister-in-law. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Each spring I used to drag my gardening hoe across the dirt to break the soil. Then I dropped seeds into the darkness of the earth and waited for them to break. Meanwhile the clouds in the sky broke to water them.
That's a terrible lot of breaking, isn't it? And yet this breaking is necessary to yield a good crop.
I haven't had a large garden since I was fourteen years old, and I'm now almost twenty-one. But this gardening analogy means more to me than ever.
You see, for the past seven years, I've been very sick with Babesia and Bartonella, chronic tick-borne infections. At my worst, I weighed 107 lbs on my 6' frame, was bedridden, and could only eat a handful of pureed foods and smoothies due poor digestion and severe Mast Cell Activation. Brain fog and hypersensitivities to light and sound meant I couldn't read books, listen to music, or watch movies. Even five minute conversations were exhausting. I depended on my family to bring food to my bedside and on my mother to wash my hair. I only left home for medical appointments, and when I did, my family pushed me in my wheelchair. I cried almost every morning because I didn't want to face another day in my body that felt like a prison cell.
Thankfully, I have since regained weight and can eat a much wider diet. I can spend a few hours out of bed most days, reading, writing, or doing crafts. I can even walk a mile a few times a week, but each day is still a struggle, especially as I increase my antimicrobial treatments that make me herx and feel worse initially.
Because of my illness, I know what it means to be broken. I know what it feels like to be in darkness. And I know what it means to weep. That sounds a lot like what the ground, seed, and clouds experienced, doesn't it?
Sandra King once wrote, "The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered in darkness, and struggle to reach the light." First gardening and then my illness have taught me that there is growth that can only originate in darkness and brokenness.
In his song, Nothing Is Wasted, Jason Gray sings,
"The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope's a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow
It's from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what's lost will be found again"
I'm still waiting to fully see the beauty God will bring from my brokenness, but I can already see glimpses. My faith is stronger. My relationships with my family and friends are deeper. I marvel at beauty that I used to rush by. I find great joy in what I used to take for granted. I've written encouraging cards and emails I would never have written otherwise. I blog regularly. I've had the opportunity to pray with and for others who are hurting.
Romans 5:3-5 also says, "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Last May, I was finally well enough to leave home for a shopping outing for the first time in six years, and I bought a pack of sunflower seeds. I rejoiced as my hands again touched dirt and as I planted the seeds in pots on my family’s deck. And in a few weeks, Lord-willing, I'll begin this process again. This process of planting and watching something beautiful grow out of darkness and brokenness.
God is the Great Gardener, and He is using my suffering and your suffering to grow us into people beautiful for Him.