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In February, much of Texas experienced one of the coldest storms in our state’s history. A strange mix of historically low temperatures, rain, ice, and snow ran our state into the ground. Our power grid failed, and most of Texas was left in the bitter cold for days. My mom and I lost power for about 40 hours total. We were fortunate enough to have a gas fireplace and stove, so we could huddle around the fire to keep warm and cook the food that was ironically thawing in our dark freezer.
Less than a week after the front blew in, our temperatures were back in the 70s and life returned to normal for most of us. Fortunately, Mom and I fared the freeze just fine. Our yard, however, was another story. Once it thawed, the storm damage was obvious. And brown. Dead brown. Bushes and trees that once stood firm and green year-round were now a sad brown and losing their leaves by the second.
The experts told us to leave our dead yards alone and in their sad state of brown. March, April, or even May, would reveal which plants would make it through. Making any moves other than watering them would run the risk of certain death. So, we waited for nature to take its course.
Each day since then, my morning routine has included walking out on the patio checking to see which plants have made a comeback. Who is showing signs of life? Who’s given up the ghost? Who wants some coffee? Surprisingly, our temperamental grass was the first to rebound, followed quickly by our odd-ball fig tree that typically can’t tell which season it’s in and produces its fruit year-round anyway.
Last week, after weeks of waiting, we broke some branches off our most dead-looking bushes, revealing signs of possible life beneath. Knowing we were taking a risk but thinking this was the only way these plants had a shot at survival, we drastically cut them back to scraggly, unidentifiable, rooted sticks. Within days, signs of life appeared. A few days more, bright green leaves emerged and practically smiled at me during my morning inspection. I smiled back knowing they had just been through the biggest struggle of their life- whether they realized it or not.
I can’t help but watch these plants each day and ponder our lives. Just when we’re humming along in a rhythm, preparing for our next big season in life, an event comes along and levels us. Maybe it’s a pandemic, maybe it’s a miscarriage, or maybe it’s the simple realization that we’re not living up to our own standards. Whatever it is, it’s almost always painful.
What we may or may not see, though, is someone out there rooting for us and anticipating our comeback. Whether it’s God, a family member, or a friend, they’re watching and trying to help us by removing the dead pieces.
Maybe sometimes we just need to be cut to our core to allow for new growth. Maybe it’s the only way to become who we’re meant to be. For years I thought life could be planned and manipulated for success, but after a few of my own harsh winters, I’m realizing the most fruitful growth comes from an unexpected hard freeze and a slow, beautiful comeback.
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