The Shape of Dirt

“Can I break it now?”

Mom and I shared a big-eyed look as Chase excitedly tested the cumbersome weight of Trev’s hammer in his small hands.

We were smashing my small ceramic turtle pot in order to free the dirt and plant inside for repotting. Cole was busy climbing the oak tree in our backyard and his brother eagerly offered his services for pot-smashing. We were also making our Easter garden and repotting a couple other plants, and bags of potting soil and shiny new pots dotted the grass around our feet.

After making sure his safety protection goggles were secure, we backed up and he squatted down to tap-tap-tap away. I experienced a moment of nostalgia for the little turtle container. I bought it when we lived in Cape Coral nearly four years ago and it had graced the plant shelf by both houses’ front doors since. But the spindly, unusual cactus had outgrown the small container and we were giving a good chunk of it to Trev’s green-thumbed dad for his birthday present.


Two hits later the ceramic turtle lay in a few fractured pieces and Chase wore a huge grin. We shared a giggle as mom pulled the dirt apart from the broken pot pieces, revealing a semi-dry mound of turtle-shaped dirt.

Months and months of the plant and its dirt pressed snuggly inside the ceramic turtle molded the soil into the shape of a small amphibian. After a few hammer taps, some cracking, and a couple gentle tugs, the plant was placed into a bigger pot that would allow more room for growth. Mom carefully pulled a piece of the cactus apart from the rest to be potted in a separate container.

I’m a sensitive soul, and I cringed for the plant as we separated and repotted it, pouring in fresh soil and pressing down to make sure the roots were deep enough then damp enough. For a little while it was a precarious mess strewn about under our oak tree, but it’s thriving in its new pot.  

Later I couldn’t help thinking about the solid, stubborn, turtle-shaped dirt and how it was now a beautiful new creation. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

I was struck by the similarity to the Christian life. We shy away from that painful breaking and reshaping process, the cracking and chipping of our old self in order to be shaped more like our Savior. Just as with the broken ceramic turtle, the mold around our lives may fracture into pieces. It’s messy, sometimes frightening, and often takes a long time to break away from the pieces we’ve held to for so long.

But when we’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s word assures us that greater power is at work and His purposes are for His glory and our good. “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them” Isaiah 42:9.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”

~ Isaiah 55: 8-9

Oswald Chambers said, “Sinful men and women can be changed into new creations, not through their repentance or their belief, but through the wonderful work of God in Christ Jesus which preceded all of our experience.”

Our Creator is in control, with plans we can’t comprehend or imagine, and our confidence should be “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6) Hold fast to God’s word and allow yourself to be molded by His capable hands.


8 thoughts on “The Shape of Dirt

    • Hi Bryan,
      Thanks for your encouraging comment. God’s truths and His word often become clear through everyday activities, and many times it’s right in line with the Sunday school lesson I’m teaching the next week! He is so good and faithful!
      God Bless,

  1. I love how God speaks to us through every day life. The breaking process is painful, but if we would see, like the plant, that God was preparing us for something bigger, maybe we wouldn’t resist it so much. Thanks for the beautiful reminder. It’s just what I needed today:)
    Blessings to you!

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for your great comment! I actually cried my way through writing this post because I needed to hear/read the words the Lord had me write, as much as I needed to write them. It’s a lesson I’m definitely still learning.
      Praying for you, sweet friend.
      God Bless,

  2. I love this. So poignant and well-written. An analogy I won’t soon forget. It is when we are broken before the Lord that He is most glorified in our lives. Great post I needed today. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Lauralee. I love how God brings His word and His truth to life in everyday experiences. And that’s so true – our brokenness allows His light to shine through.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      God Bless, Kerry

  3. How cute that your sons take delight in smashing pots, but I love the analogy you drew from it. Very wise!

    BTW, I feel plants’ pain, too. It made me feel good that someone else is like me! Thanks for sharing this.

    Happy Easter week,

  4. Is prayer, then, the hammer that helps break that outer pot? As I read, I thought, oh, to get those people to see that new creation that is them, the who they are with Christ – if they could really see it and visualize it – they would be crying out to be broken! You show it so well – simply powerful!

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