As I have journeyed through an intentional season of healing, the Lord has blessed me with vivid imagery.
My heart, wounded and broken, is a sweet little garden. But as I turn to see the garden up close, it is overwhelmed with weeds. The thorns and branches strangle any life that tries to grow, and keeps out all new life that tries to enter.
As I walk through the garden, I see a man crouched among the thorns. Who is this man? It is Jesus, weeding in the garden of my heart.
As He begins to work, His eyes are full of sorrow. His heart breaks for the wounds that have led to these thorns that try to protect me from any outside intruders. They form a type of protection. The reality of these thorns are not that they protect me from harm, but rather they stop life from growing. They stop new people from entering from the outside and aggressively strangle the hope for new experiences that attempt to grow on the inside.
The sorrow in Christ’s eyes does not stop Him from approaching this painful process of weeding. He is not afraid to be poked and cut by the thorns attempting to keep Him out. He dives in, ready to suffer with me. He weeds with strength, hopeful of the beautiful garden that is yet to come.
This is not the first time Jesus has appeared to a young woman as a gardener. This began after Christ’s resurrection in the Gospel of John. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene outside of His tomb and at first, Mary sees Him as a gardener.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?’. She thought it was the gardener and said to him, ‘Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’. She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni,’ which means Teacher,” (John 20:15).
Once Jesus calls Mary Magdalene by her name, her eyes are opened and she recognizes Him. Like Mary, I often fail to see God working right in front of me. He protects us daily, and enters into suffering with us when we are ready. He gives us the grace to overcome hardship with joy.
Yet, we do not even know what we need to heal from. Just like Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus, we do not recognize how desperately we need Christ.
I truly believe the Lord reveals our need for healing when the time is right. When we are ready, He will allow us to enter deeply into a journey of healing with Him. He uses our experiences and the people in our lives to heal us. He does not leave us to do it alone, but walks in the garden with us, one small step at a time.
The process of weeding and healing is not always quick. For me, it has been a slow process that has taken years. But as I reflect on my season of healing through prayer and Catholic counselling, I can clearly see all the work the Lord has done within me.
Some of this process is reflected in my artwork (images below). I began in a state of darkness, where my view of my life was not rooted in truth, but distorted by lies. My heart was full of anxiety, struggling to rest and trust the Lord with my life. Slowly, the Lord pruned my heart and led me down an unexpected path. I moved to a new state as a missionary, was away from friends and family back home, and began a new job during the pandemic. In this season of discomfort, the garden of my heart was completely cleared. It was an opportunity for Jesus to be the only one I could rely on as He tilled the soil. Throughout this time of transition and intentionally facing the difficult experiences from my past in counselling, Jesus continued to root out the lies and plant seeds of truth. He used the people around me and my experiences to affirm, “Elisa, you are my daughter, and I love you. Please, begin to hope again.”
Jesus has given me new life and hope. He has taught me how to love, be loved, and how to find joy in each day. I pray that you find freedom in healing. I pray that you are open to encountering the Lord in your suffering. I pray that the Lord completely resurrects your heart, and brings new joy into every corner of your life. You are worth it.
Mixed media on paper
December 2020 - May 2021