lessons learned: caring for the root bound

“You are root bound,” she said.  “Your prayer needs to be, ‘God, give me a bigger pot.'”

That’s what my counselor said to me Tuesday, and it has resonated with my spirit ever since.  Given how I love to blog about creation and spirituality, I have fallen in love with this metaphor and its connection to my life.  I had contacted her several weeks ago because I was feeling a sense of something I couldn’t quite name.  For someone who loves language, I could not label this mixed bag of feelings, and I wanted help.

“You are root bound,” she said.  “Your prayer needs to be, ‘God, give me a bigger pot.'”

She was right.  The Creator has gifted each of us with the inherent desire to grow, but sometimes, circumstances limit that potential.  When we are trapped and have little room for growth, we become like the plant in a pot that is too small–frustrated, weary, and spiritually or emotionally malnourished.

If you’ve never seen a potted plant that is root bound, it looks like a web of roots has enveloped the dirt around it.  The roots continue growing but are so confined to the smallness of the container, that they weave around each other creating a dense mass that can be hard to separate.  Two critical issues then impact the plant:

  • it doesn’t get enough nutrition–there’s not enough soil or it has already lived off of what was available
  • it will eventually stop reaching out to look for more dirt and simply wind its way back on itself

As a result, the plant that is seemingly healthy at the surface will slowly wither, perhaps give up,  and possibly die.

“You are root bound,” she said.  “Your prayer needs to be, ‘God, give me a bigger pot.'”

So how do we take care of ourselves when life’s situations create a “root bound effect?”  I’ve been meditating on that as well as some of the suggestions my counselor shared.

  • Pray for a bigger pot.
  • Grow in ways you can.
  • Nurture the life and body you do have.
  • Breathe.
  • Focus less on the darkness that the roots are experiencing and continue to seek the light and nutrients available above the surface or outside of the pot.
  • Stop struggling against what is trapping you.  Perhaps it’s time to “just be” until more favorable growing conditions come along.
  • Hope, have faith.  Even the most root bound plant will eventually thrive when offered the space to grow.

And remember, that this is only one season in the journey of life.






2 Comments on “lessons learned: caring for the root bound

  1. I love this image, in particular: “Ask for a bigger pot!” I resonate with the frustration, routines, and situations that limit or stunt my ability to breathe freely. Part of my prayer is also, “Set me free from the thoughts and habits that limit my growth. Show me the way to stand tall, to breathe in and share Your limitless life, even when it means I must let go in trust.” Am looking forward to both some quiet and sharing together!

    Vicki LK

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