Thrive On Neglect

I was working in the garden center yesterday and saw this cactus. I thought the label was interesting and amusing so I took a photo. I thought I would share the photo, get a few laughs, and be done with it.

thrive cactus

It was amusing on several levels. First of all, the label “succulents & cacti” made me laugh. I honestly don’t know why. Second, it’s funny that it is labeled “Drought Tolerant” and “Great Gift” on the same line. It’s as if they already know the recipient of this “gift” is going to immediately forget about it. Lastly, that sentence at the bottom got in my head and wouldn’t go away.

I thrive on neglect!

I understand what it’s trying to say. This particular plant does not need a lot of attention to survive. It will grow even if you forget to water it for long periods of time. For someone like me, who is absolutely terrible when it comes to plants, this is probably good news. Unlike a dog or a child, this thing just might survive even if I am totally incompetent. It doesn’t need much from me.

Unfortunately, this does not apply to us. We have physical needs that have to be met or else we will grow weak and eventually die. The average person can survive about three weeks without eating. You can only go about three days without water. The longest that most people can go without sleep is eight to ten days. Now it’s true that there have been exceptions to all of these but it is pretty obvious that people die when they neglect their bodies for too long.

What many people don’t realize is that the same thing can happen spiritually. A lot of people thrive physically and live very productive lives. On the outside they look like they have perfect lives and lack nothing. However, we are more than just physical beings. We have souls that need nourishing as well. I am saddened (but not really surprised) when some who achieve worldly fame and wealth end their lives prematurely. I realize that there is no single cause for suicide but many people have found their lives empty even after accomplishing all the things the world says we should strive after.

We have emotions. We have spiritual longings. There is a part of us that can’t be fulfilled with stuff. Unlike our friend the cactus, we do NOT thrive with neglect. We crave it on so many levels. Even when we can achieve it in some areas it’s still not enough and we suffer in others. We need physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. We need food, water, and oxygen. We need companionship. Most importantly, we need to be connected to the God who created us. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 1. I especially enjoy this part:

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do. (NLT)


Hopefully you are getting nourishment in all the right areas. It’s important to take care of those physical and emotional needs. Make sure you feed those spiritual ones as well.

Grace and peace.



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