Are You an Epiphyte?
By Christia DeShields
Two of my three boys have a few more weeks before the start of school, and I was figuring out what to do with them because we had reached our limit of being in the house together all day. Either I was gonna kill them or they were going to kill each other. I thought to myself, it’s going to be a really bad day inside or an awesome day out. We chose life lol! We were almost out the door and I remembered that the Botanical Garden is free for city residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays before 12 pm (thanks for the reminder Holy Spirit). We hadn’t gone all summer and today was the perfect day to visit the splash pad.
We get there and we decided to go inside the Climatron. The Climatron is a ginormous dome shaped greenhouse that’s home to an array of trees and flowers, many of which do not grow in our state. While looking around at some citrus trees and pretty flowers, my eyes locked on this sign: Life of a Limb: known as air plants. Epiphytes are plants that use other plants for support. They are not parasites. They get the water and nutrients they need from the air. By growing on other plants they can reach positions where the sunlight is brighter.
My first thought was wow! That has so many life applications. I thought about my kids. Many times, especially in the womb and while nursing they seem like parasites lol, but they’re really epiphytes. They need us as parents for support. Any good parent wants their child to grow higher and reach farther than they have ever gone. Parents are great hosts for epiphytes.
I started thinking about other applications of this beyond parenthood into personal growth.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always wanting to learn new things. I want to grow in my faith, profession, as a wife, and mother. I’m an enneagram 7 in case you were wondering lol. I remember praying for mentors in certain areas of my life. It was and still is a deep longing. I realized that I’m an epiphyte plant. I want to be in community with people that support me and help me grow even when the growth is painful. Growth can be very painful at times, but what’s even more painful than that is staying stuck. I started looking for people who were where I wanted to go and I began to seek council from them. Some are friends and some I watch from afar, but it has been instrumental in pushing me forward.
I also realized that my husband and I are hosts to epiphytes. Obviously because we’re parents, but also because my husband and I mentor and support others. We always say that we have a lot of grown kids lol. It’s been amazing and rewarding seeing our epiphytes graduate college, get married, beat addiction, overcome abuse, persevere through challenging circumstances, etc etc. We’ve experienced highs and lows, growing pains, failures, and triumphs with many. We feel blessed to play a small role in their stories.
If you look at the picture of this epiphyte plant you can see how beautiful and healthy it is because of the community and environment it lives in. I propose a few things to you, if your interested in personal growth.
Look for your hosts. Take and audit of your relationships. Who stretches you? Who helps you reach for more? If there is no one in your circle that does this, ask God to guide you. Maybe you’re the one that’s supposed to create this dynamic amongst your friends.
Look for epiphytes to support. Why? Because someone will do it for you. I remember my husband and I praying ferverently for mentors. It wasn’t until we started to mentor others that we reaped a harvest of mentors in our life. You may say you don’t have time. It doesn’t take much time and it will be rewarding. You’re building a legacy that will outlive you. What do you want to leave behind?
Imagine how the world around us could change if 1 and 2 were a part of our core values. We would be lifting each other up while learning from one another. There would be so many things that could change. I am an idealist and I just dream of this being possible. A lot of times we put focus on what others are not doing, but I propose that we focus on what we’re doing individually. If we do that, the trickle down effect will take shape and we will start changing the world by changing ourselves.