by Hiba Noor Khan in Soul on 10th January, 2018
I recently noticed one of my beloved living room plants looking rather squeezed for space in it’s terracotta pot. This beautiful plant has vibrant shiny leaves with scalloped edges and a few times a year grows tiny delicate pink flowers, but now was at risk of snapping as it had basically doubled over on itself, the pot it had outgrown barely visible beneath it.
I got out a much larger pot, with room for it to grow and more, excitedly imagining how it would flourish given the new space for its roots to burrow into (A plant’s stem and leaves grow proportionally to the growth of the its roots). On lifting it out of the tiny space it had been confined to, as expected, the roots had folded and crossed and merged with one another in desperation to find space and nutrients, and had resulted in a tightly compacted mesh like structure. In order to enable the little plant to grow into its new space once repotted, I needed to separate and tear apart many of the roots and direct them outwards rather than inwards as they had been. In order to make the plant fully aware of its exciting new pot and all that fresh soil, I had no choice but to break and reroute its life source. Slightly embarrassingly, I have always tended to envisage my plants as little green beings, very much alive, and I found myself wincing as I pulled the roots apart, unavoidably snapping some of them.
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Once I had placed it into the new pot, filled it with soil and saw it sat there now looking quite tiny and alone in the vast new space it now inhabited, I began thinking. Pain, breaking and discomfort was woven fine with the potential for growth and flourishing of the plant. In fact it was entirely necessary in order to simply avoid it snapping its stem due to the weight of its own leaves, let alone to further develop. If this little plant was indeed an animate being as I liked to imagine, no doubt at this point in time it would be utterly confused, terrified, in physical pain and probably quite resentful towards me, the perpetrator of this crime. I had uprooted it, torn apart its most vital organs and redirected them out into unfamiliar territory, leaving it all alone. Little would the plant know the beautiful vision I had for it in this new space, nor the threat it faced after having outgrown its previous pot, where I’m sure it was very content and comfortable. Perhaps it even felt a sense of accomplishment after having well and truly conquered the only home it ever knew. I wished I could simply explain the wisdom behind what I was doing, that I knew how high it’s beautiful flowers would reach and how wide its glossy leaves would stretch if I changed where it grew.
How often do things happen in our lives that break parts of us, so much so that we feel we will never heal nor recover? How often do we experience excruciating pain as a result of loss or changes that arise, and develop a sense of negativity and resentment towards whatever causes the pain? Have you ever experienced your circumstances evolving in such a way that throws you from a place of comfort and peace into a raging storm, or towards a bleak, lonely place?
Perhaps, Someone has a beautiful vision for you too. God uproots us sometimes because He wants us to grow. He replaces our limiting environments with ones in which we can flourish, and the pain along the way is all part of the perfect plan He wrote before you set foot on this earth. But don’t expect to be able to see it immediately or obviously. Just like the plant, with our limited minds, we can’t fathom how the job loss or divorce or war or miscarriage or illness or loss of loved one can ever lead us to a better place internally or externally, and that’s where faith and trust come in. Trust that although you are aching and torn apart, you are scared and feel alone, in actual fact, a Loving, Caring Hand is simply redirecting your roots, giving you space and the nutrients you need to develop, flourish, and bloom into what you have the potential to be.
It will only be weeks, months, or even years later than the plant may realise how solid its stem now is, how far reaching its roots are, how many more flowers adorn it’s green and how much closer to the heavens it now reaches. And it is no different for you and I. All we must do is have the faith and trust to keep our faces and hearts turned towards our Lord, and day by day, hour upon hour, silently, subtly and steadily, grow.
Hiba Noor Khan is a children’s author, her books include The Little War Cat, Inspiring Inventors and One Home. She has two titles to be published in 2023, including her first novel – Safiyyah’s War. Her books have been listed for national awards and translated into Swedish, Korean, Turkish, Breton and counting. She secretly wants to be an explorer, and is happiest surrounded by nature, especially near the ocean.