Tending Planted Love: 5 Lessons from Tu B'Shevat

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Tending Planted Love: 5 Lessons from Tu B'Shevat
How do you tend to your relationships in the middle of a winter season? Tu B'Shevat gives ideas.

In the middle of winter falls a minor Jewish holidayTu B’Shevat or New Year of the Trees. In 2014, the date fell on January 15-16 and has drawn media attention in New York because of politicians going to Jewish communities to join in the celebrations.

The basic idea is that this is one of several new years—this one being used to determine the age of trees. There are two ways that this can help us think about what is like when we are newly in love and trying to determine directions.

The first idea comes from the fact that this is a time that they eat fruit and in some cases, plant trees. It is important, even in the middle of winter, to be doing the preparatory work that needs to be done for what will follow in later seasons. It is the same for us in our love lives. There is work for us to do to plant things in our lives that will bear fruit later. This raises the parallel of when we are in the winter between relationships. Some people who are in these times find it very difficult. They continue to move from short term relationship to short term relationship, never really planting for the future.

Consider, in stead, the person who accepts that they are in a winter stage between relationships and decides to use this time as a time to lay groundwork that will be helpful for the future. There are lots of ways that you can help plant seeds that will become the strong trees of a future relationship. Consider the following:
• seriously explore things that you can improve on that causes problems in relationships
• develop better communication skills
• work out what you are really looking for so that you foster the right relationships rather than what you aren't looking for, even if that comes in an unexpected package
• stabilize other areas of your life so they won’t demand as much of your attention when you reach a new stage
• foster your other non-romantic relationships so you have good social support
• other ideas you can come up with
Doing this is good use of winter times so that you can bear fruit later on in your relationships.

This is where the second idea also comes in. There will be a time when you come out of your winter in your relationship life and begin to allow the tree that you planted to grow. In Tu B'Shevat, there is a reminder of the ways to treat the fruit of a growing tree, according to law in Leviticus. In this holiday, they remember that the fruit of a new tree goes untouched for three years. The fruit is only actually eaten in the fifth year, only after dedicating fruit and the tree to God.

This helps you think about a different way of going about having good fruit from the tree you have planted over the long term. During the early stage of nurturing that new relationship, that new love, that new tree in your life, the key task for you to engage in is to nurture that tree. It is import to be more focused on the other person and to be seeing what is developing rather than on getting the fruit that you might initially be wanting to get for yourself. These can mean different things but may include things like:
• allow the other person a chance to adjust into the relationship
• watch to see if this new relationship is consistent with what you feel you are called to be involved in and then spiritually acknowledge this
• be calmer about where you are at so that you are not responding in the developing relationship out of a place of being needy
• allow the relationship to mature so that when you get from the relationship you get mature fruit the two of you have tended to rather than immature fruit too early
• appreciating the developing parts of the relationship because you have waited for them to come along more naturally
The idea of allowing things to mature in appropriate ways before the fruit is taken from them is important. In so doing, you have the opportunity of really building the foundation of a relationship in which you will find wholeness and peace.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
Other Articles/News by The Rev. Christopher L. Smith:

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