Five months ago, my masseuse gave me freesia bulbs from her garden to plant. Knowing I’m not a green thumb, I reluctantly took them. They sat in a Ziploc bag on my counter for a month before I finally decided to plant them. I bought a cheap pot, some cheap soil, and planted the bulbs, expecting nothing to happen.

I’d forgotten about them, until three weeks ago when I sat out on my porch. To my amazement, several green shoots were poking through the soil.

In looking at this budding flower, and reflecting on a recent (and difficult) conversation with a good friend, I couldn’t help but think that this is often how growth works in our lives.

Sometimes, we choose to plant bulbs of change. We look at our lives, and decide to work on areas that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of life God intends. We purposefully sow knowing that it will make a difference in the long run.

Other times, we reluctantly plant bulbs of change with little to no confidence that anything will come of it. We fail to see the growth occurring under the surface, and therefore doubt the visible outcome.

Still, there are other times when God, the Divine Gardener, plants bulbs of change for us. In his grace, he begins a process we were unwilling, or unable to, initiate. When growth occurs, we’re surprised, and often overwhelmed with thankfulness, as we never saw the bulbs planted in the first place.

I’ve come to realize that time is God’s fertilizer. While he can bring about instantaneous change in our lives, more often than not, abiding lessons only come with a lengthy germination process.

Often, it’s not until months or years later, when faced with a conversation, conflict, or challenging situation, that we realize real progress has been made. When we receive and give grace more naturally, reserve judgment more readily, express love more openly, accept and extend forgiveness more freely, or sit more comfortably with our own and another’s emotions, we recognize that growth has slowly crept in, and that God has harvested change in our lives.

This harvest tends to happen in unexpected moments, yet this shouldn’t stop us from looking for, and expecting it.

Regardless of the stage we’re at in our lives, may we confidently plant bulbs of change, trusting in God’s faithfulness to water them.