My Life as a Seed

I am confident you know exactly what I am talking about when I say: there are good seasons and hard seasons. The tougher the season, the greater propensity we have to become discouraged. We lose sleep, we fret, we get anxious, our emotions are unreliable, and we just want to quit.

I’m in one of those tough seasons … my personality is to lean into it and keep pushing forward. Constantly observing, listening, adjusting, with the occasional “screw this, I’m quitting attitude” thrown in to boot.

Well, I had one of those “screw this” attitudes the other day. Here’s what went down.

Back in January of this year, I was returning from Central America and brought back some coffee seeds. My plan was to plant them and watch them grow over the following years and enjoy the fruit they produce! I wasn’t asking for much, a simple plant representing an industry I love and my heritage in coffee going back over 100 years. It was a gift to myself, something that I could enjoy and take pleasure in while I was wrestling with my current tough season.

I planted the seeds with great care back in January. Being diligent to protect them from the cold weather of January and February, I would bring them into the house every evening and take them back outside every morning to bathe in the warmth of the sun, knowing that the soil was perfect and reacting to the dynamics of the light and heat. My excitement grew around the 10 week mark because that’s when the seeds would finally be germinating and breaking through the soil!

Nothing. That’s right, not a single green little leaf popping through the perfectly monitored and tended soil. So, what did I do? I leaned into it … March, all 31 long days of March and not a sign of life, so I kept watering, talking to them, and tenderly loving a process I couldn’t see. My expectations of finding some joy in watching the plants grow and flourish were now beginning to fade and my attitude was beginning to fade with them. “Of course,” I thought to myself, “why should I deserve something good, even as simple as this? I mean really, what was I thinking?” I even had a neighbor question my behavior, wryly implying it had been a long time and maybe it was time to give up.

I really don’t like to lose, so I leaned into April with gusto. Well great, April has come and gone, far beyond any “reasonable” expectation of success now, and there I was, feeling beaten and just a bit miffed, shaking my fist at anything that moved, I punched my index finger into the soil to dig up the dead seeds. They were supposed to respond correctly to my watering, caring, tending, nurturing, and quite honestly, my giving actions. They did not. So as I pulled the first seed out of the perfect soil, I began to form the words of disappointment on my lips when I realized my error. There to my utter surprise was a coffee seed with an incredibly healthy 4-inch long root! I had ripped it from the very environment that was patiently developing it into a beautiful living tree. I had let my flawed expectations control my reactions. I inserted myself into the growth process prematurely based on what I thought was right. The process was taking longer than I thought was necessary and what I didn’t realize was that the prolonged process was developing out a stronger, healthier tree for the environment I had planted it in. The seed itself was in a longer than expected season of germination because that is what was required to be come an effective producing tree where it was planted.

Realizing my error, I tenderly put it back into its healthy soil. I have been complaining about my long difficult season, and I now realize that God is patiently watering and developing a root system in my life, for my benefit. I am a lot like that coffee seed. For those of you who are in a much longer-than-expected season of challenge, hang in there. Observe, listen, learn, lean into hope, and press forward, believing that God is at work in your life.

-- by Ed Apffel, Chairman, Board of Directors, TerraMica