How to Survive Transplant Shock

With summer being a season of transition for so many people and so many reasons, I’m excited to share my friend Beth’s encouraging words about how to survive transplant shock.

How to Survive Transplant Shock

by Beth Kutcher

I do not consider myself to have a “green thumb” or an artist’s eye for landscaping by any stretch of the imagination. I do enjoy filling my planters with beautiful flowers each spring.  But this year, adding the finishing touches to my final flower pot reminded me of the previous spring. 

It was one of great transition in my life.  A season of brokenness and pain.  A season of newness I had not desired and continues to unfold a full year later.  As my fingers dusted off the loose soil from the rim of the planter, my mind drifted back to the previous June.  

Transplant Shock is Real

See, every spring when I plant my flowers, they are really quite beautiful. However, without fail they begin looking droopy and wilted in the following days. Quite honestly, they usually look like they are dying. 

Last year (as I fretted over the condition of my plants) my then 8 year old daughter reminded me that this happens every year and they always bounce back. She was right, but neither of us knew why this happened. So, we asked the expert on all things—“Google.” It turns out my plants were apparently experiencing what is commonly known as “transplant shock.” And it is exactly what it sounds like. They had been uprooted from what they knew and they were in shock. They needed specific conditions in order to re-root and bloom in their new environment.  

Transplant shock is real. When we are uprooted from our familiar environments, we need specific conditions to re-root and bloom. Click To Tweet

As I read on, I began to hear that still small voice of the Lord bringing His Word to my mind: 

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.”

Job 12:7-8 NIV

What My Plants Taught Me

Looking at my wilting flowers, their drooping petals and withering leaves I realized I was no longer reading about my plants.

“When you relocate your plants be sure to provide plenty of water.”

I had not eaten in a while. In this season of transition in my own life, I had taken to skipping meals and drinking whatever was leftover in the water bottle from the day before. I know, yes I know, but that was the season I was in. I had forgotten to take care of myself. Shock caused basic nourishment to fall to the bottom of the “to do” list. It had turned into a season of survival and I was wilting. 

Through my attempts at landscaping, the Lord spoke practical wisdom into my mind and then spoke to my soul bringing me to: 

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:14

Getting to the Root of Transplant Shock

I read on about my plants:

“Provide your plants with nutrient-rich soil in order to encourage the repair and growth of strong healthy roots.”

The Lord gave me a heart check in these moments. See, the reality is, I didn’t want to re-root in this season, I didn’t want to re-establish anything in these circumstances. And I was not taking care of myself, maybe subconsciously I was refusing to re-root.  But the Lord was firm, I needed to eat, both literally and spiritually: 

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:35 

Transplant Shock Feels Like Dying

I looked at my flowers, they looked like they were dying. Anyone looking at them while driving by would most certainly assume they were. I wondered if I looked like I was dying. It felt at times like I might be dying.

Have you ever been in a season of change so traumatizing you felt as if you were physically dying? Most of us have and if you haven’t, there is a good chance at some point you may find yourself there for a season. God tenderly reminded me that this season was evidence of how broken His creation had become; however, He had not changed and He was here to guide his people through seasons of darkness!   

“When you relocate your plants,

be sure to give them natural sunlight

according to their specific needs.” 

Sunlight, now that was something that I had not been seeing much of.  I normally loved being outside, but I found myself staying inside more and more. Each morning I woke up longing for night time to come because it felt safe and the night was less demanding. However, this self-protective measure had become counterproductive. It was keeping me from establishing a strong root system in this new season. God created us in such a way that a certain amount of natural sunlight is critical to our physical and emotional well-being. He also created us with a need for spiritual light.

Have you self-protective measures become counterproductive? #transplantschock Click To Tweet

We Need SON-light to Survive Transplant Shock

The Lord reminded me of my need not only for sunlight but also, SON-light:

“Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

I was in a dark season; however, Jesus never asked me to walk alone in darkness.  Why was I walking alone in darkness? He desires His children to come to Him, allowing Him to walk ahead, lighting the way so they do not stumble. Why was I insisting on doing this alone? Why do we insist on stumbling around in the dark until we are black and blue, terrified and exhausted? 

I looked at my flowers again, their heads hung low, their stems slumped down a bit with leaves hanging at their sides. They looked exhausted and I understood.

“When you repot or relocate your plants it takes time,

but they will bounce back with the right conditions.”

Real Rest Restores

I heard God give me the okay and I breathed a sigh of relief. I needed time to re-root and time to rest. However, I needed to rest in Him and His Word as much as I did with my pillow.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 

When life gets turned upside down, we may literally need more sleep. However, our emotional rest (our spiritual peace) comes through trusting in God’s promises and sovereign nature. My circumstances were shocking to me but they did not shock Him or take Him by surprise. He already had a master plan for my good and His glory and He was inviting me to sit down and rest, trusting that He had it all worked out long before I ever took my first breath. 

It Takes Time to Survive Transplant Shock

Surviving Transplant Shock
Keys for Surviving
Transplant Shock

I wish I could say I perked up as quickly as my flowers did, but I did not. 

It took 5 or 6 more months to begin feeling that sun on my face again. But I did stop beating myself up over not being my usual self. I started paying closer attention to when I ate last and set alarms to remind myself to drink water, and (when I had an off day) I just tried to do better the next day. When I let the kids watch extra television on the weekends so I could sleep a little more in the mornings, I didn’t beat myself up. I stopped getting down on myself for the messy house and the frozen dinners. 

See, it turns out, I was recovering from “transplant shock” and it was hard work! It is really hard work just allowing oneself to re-root in an unfamiliar setting. It hurts and it’s confusing and scary, and it’s purposeful, for your good and God’s Glory!

This year as I dusted off that last flower pot I smiled–realizing that almost 12 months later–I was no longer in shock. It would be a half-truth to say I was perfectly happy with where I am being rooted, and one thing I am learning is the importance of living in the full truth of the gospel as well as the full truth of my circumstances. I am NOT perfectly happy with where I am being rooted, but I am at peace and I often still find that tomorrows feel daunting rather than exciting. But even that is shifting as my roots grow more deeply into the soil of God’s nourishing Word. 

Living in God’s Truth Helps Us Survive Transplant Shock

God’s Word assures us that His plans are for our future and they are good plans to give us hope and prosperity of eternal value!  (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

If you are suffering through a season of “transplant shock” know that God does not desire for you to walk this season alone. Will you trust Him to light the way, to give you water, nourishment, light, and rest? Will you allow yourself to be firmly rooted in him, so that no matter where you find yourself, you will be like a tree firmly planted by water?

“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:8 NLT 

Be sure to check out Beth’s video message on transplant shock. Click HERE!

If you are suffering through a season of transplant shock discover what you need to not only survive but thrive! #transplantshock Click To Tweet

Meet Beth

Beth Kutcher
Life Seasons Support and Counseling

Beth has been blessed with an intuitive nature along with a sincere heart for coming alongside women and their families as they experience the “Mountain Top Moments” of life, but also the “Deep Valleys.” Her personal experience in life makes her relatable, while her licensing and qualifications give her credibility. Beth has the rare ability to both speak authoritatively and listen compassionately, making her the perfect choice to support you in all of life’s seasons. As the mother of two active children, a Bible Study Fellowship Teaching Leader, and an active member of her church, Beth knows firsthand the dynamic challenges today’s families face.

Visit LifeSeasonsSupport for more information and to find out how Beth can support your emotional wellness.

How to Survive Transplant Shock by Beth Kutcher
How to Survive Transplant Shock by Beth Kutcher

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