I love to garden. I have been gardening ever since I was a little girl living at my grandmother’s house. I enjoyed helping her tend to the various fruits and vegetables she would grow in the spring and summer.

There would be cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, mint, and we even once had a peach tree. I would help her gather the abundant food and hold the garbage bag open as she piled bunches of weeds to be discarded.

It was a time of contentment, like we were far away from the sounds of the busy street on the Southside of Chicago. Our own private garden oasis, and I loved every minute of it.

Over time, I moved away, but I still had that urge to plant and tend and take care of items.

I worked on my mom’s backyard when I lived with her, even adding a birdfeeder so I could have some feathered friends visit. When my now-husband and I moved into our condo, I planted herbs and flowers to give my balcony some flair.

Then, with working and helping my family out, I forgot all about my gardening.

It stayed in the back of my mind until an email went out asking for members to help tend to the flowers and bushes around the church. I was thrilled! Being back into the earth and digging at it excited me. I have been taking care of it for three years so far.

But, it isn’t easy. It’s worse than when I would help my grandmother. But as I was trimming a section today, it hit me.

Working on a garden keeps my spirit closer to God. @RenayleFink (Click to Tweet!)

This year has been a time to test my faith.

January saw my husband and I both hit with bronchitis, and my mom and granddad struggling with their flu and cold, respectively. The end of the month saw my sister in a difficult situation and she went to the hospital for a week. The next two months were being by my mom’s side as my sister’s dad tried to take her away. She’s safe with my mom now, but it was a trying time.

Did I mention that my mom has had multiple sclerosis for over ten years and my sister was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome almost two years ago?

I am an introvert, especially when it comes to my feelings. I tend to keep things in, which is the worst thing to do. Up until I went back to gardening in April, I was tired and angry.

Working on the church’s garden has become my refuge. It is my own private oasis. And it gets me closer to God.

So, as I am pruning leaves or pulling up weeds so the church parking lot looks neat and clean, here are four things I’ve learned about gardening and my spirit.

One: You have to take care of it.

You can’t just plant some seeds and walk away from it, thinking it will grow on its own. You must nurture it, water it, prune leaves, and make sure weeds or critters don’t eat anything.

Your spirit needs the same nourishment. You can’t just get baptized and think, “Okay, I’m done here! I’ve been baptized, nothing more for me to do!” You need to pray on a daily basis, asking God to keep you walking in the straight path. You read the Bible and learn from the teachings. By doing this, you continue on your spiritual walk.

Two: Get rid of the weeds before they get out of hand.

Have you ever walked out to your garden, only to be surprised there are big, prickly weeds out there that seem to grow overnight? They are not only a nuisance; they also have pricks along their ridged leaves to prevent people from trying to pull them out.

They are taking viable nutrients from your plants, and you must get to the root and pull them out, or if you don’t get the full root, then use some safe weed killer to prevent them from growing in that same spot again.

The same goes for your spirit. Temptation is everywhere among us, and it’s not just the physical ones. You may anger easily and lash out at loved ones at the slightest provocation. This “weed” is taking you off track from God, and you feel the after effects of the hurt you put on people.

Take a look at the root of the temptation. If you are angry, maybe the root is you are stressed, or you feel troubled about a relationship. Then ask God to help you through the situation, and work through keeping calm and relaxed. You pull this root out of your life, and you feel better.

Three: If there is a lot to do, don’t give up.

Not only do I despise weeds and pulling them, sometimes the pruning and trimming can get exhausting, especially on a warm day when all I want to do is relax in my air-conditioned home. But, I continue till the job is done. My plants depend on it.

Likewise, your spirit depends on you to take care of it. You may have a lot of sins (as we all do), and it seems at first it’s hard to keep up with a path of righteousness. But don’t give up on God, because he will never give up on you. The walk is meant to be challenging. You challenge yourself to be a better person, and that means going through tough times.

Four: You will enjoy the bounty of your labor.

Even though the weeds prick at me, and I drip with sweat trimming on a hot day (even at 6pm), when I come to church, I am pleased that my hard work has paid off. I am also proud people compliment me on my gardening skills and how well I upkeep the area. It fills me with gratitude and I look forward to continue to taking care of it.

Your walk with God is also tough, but if you stick with it, you will definitely enjoy the blessings he bestows on you. You will notice how much happier and calmer you are when you put all your troubles to Him. You are friendlier to others and compassionate. You are more positive. And in the end, this path leads you to see Him in the kingdom of heaven. So keep going, and don’t give up.

I know that working on the garden and working on my spirit leads to great things for me mentally, physically, and most importantly, spiritually. It has made me more compassionate towards others, and I much calmer. I have a new perspective on how to walk with God, and I hope you do also.

What do you do to connect spiritually? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Renayle Fink is a writer who ghostwrites content for publications. She wants to help you get into a writing habit and create awesome stories. Check her out on her website, follow her on Twitter, & Facebook.