Posted by: Nancy Day-Achauer | June 14, 2009

Soil vs. Dirt

I took a walk while at Lakeside this week and enjoyed checking out the architecture and landscaping. While walking, I met a woman planting flowers in her front yard and it reminded me of how much I miss gardening. There’s something wonderful about fresh soil, I love to dip my hands into a new bag of topsoil and feel the soft dirt. I love to scoop it up and just feel it, some of it stays in the palms of my hands and the rest slips out between my fingers. It’s messy, and of course it’s dirty, and yet that soil will help produce something wonderful – a flower, a shrub, maybe an ornamental grass or a tree. I love digging out the old dirt and replacing it with rich soil so I can have a beautiful plant. Through trial and error I learned that good soil helps plants grow and thrive but poor quality dirt hinders plants. 

Horticulture provides a good lesson for life. For starters, since I started out talking about dirt, let me clarify that we’re not dirt. We’ve all made mistakes and have regrets but we’re not dirt and neither is anyone else. People are more like plants; we are unique with no two alike. We may be the same variety and have similar characteristics but we’re not all the same. The soil we’re planted in, the tending we have received, and the ways we have responded have all resulted in unique plants that contribute to the world in their own way. Some plants provide nourishment to others, some provide beauty, and some contribute to the creation of other things; our contributions vary but all are important. 

We’re plants and sometimes we find ourselves in dirt rather than soil. (Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we’re in dirt!) The dirt in our lives contributes to who we are and who we become but we do not need to define ourselves by the dirt we find ourselves in nor do we need to stay in the dirt. We can amend the dirt or replace most of it with rich soil that nurtures and sustains us. Yes, the old dirt never completely disappears but it is neutralized by the new nutritious soil. This enrichment process is an important part of becoming the beautiful being we are intended to be. We can become something beautiful if we allow other elements to transform us by working with us and through us. 

Plants need to be nourished with proper soil, sun, water, and air in order to be transformed into the beautiful plants they are destined to be. People need to be nourished from a variety of sources too. I have found that if I replace the dirt in my life with God then I am better able to be nourished by the other elements necessary for human life. We’re not accustomed to thinking of God as soil but maybe seeing God in a different way will help us understand more about God and our need for God. 

God is my ground, the soil that sustains me and holds me up. My roots reach down deep into the God/soil and spread out enabling me to gain more nutrients from the soil. When deeply rooted I can survive outside elements. Harsh winds can batter me but I survive, heat will wither me but I survive, I can even survive a drought if my roots are deep enough in the soil. I am not spared from hardships but I can survive because my roots are deep in the soil. Sure, I can endure if I’m in dirt but without rich soil I cannot eventually thrive, I cannot reach my full potential, I cannot become the beautiful creation I am capable of being. 

Do you want to thrive in life, do you want to be all you are capable of being? Replace your dirt with soil. Maybe your dirt is materialism, egotism, anger, complacency, or sorrow; there are a myriad of things that prevent us from thriving. Whatever it is that’s preventing you from being all the good things you can be can be replaced with the one thing that will help you flourish. I urge you to allow God to be the soil that you are rooted in so that you too can be enriched and flourish.


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