Blooming Where You Are Planted: Coming Full Circle

August 29, 2013

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:17

Or, in other words, bloom where you are planted.

What makes these flowers (and children) so lovely?  Each one is unique.

What makes these flowers (and children) so lovely? Each one is unique.

I’m not a gardener. I should be, given that I come from a long line of farmers and gardeners. My grandparents could make anything grow anywhere. My dad’s parents operated a successful “U-pick” strawberry patch in North Mississippi, a place not particularly known for growing strawberries, for years.

But me? No. I try, sometimes. My problem is that I just don’t have the follow-through when it comes to plants. I have, on occasion, taken the time to spruce up the flower beds and pots with new plants, but am not very good at remembering to water them for more than a week or so.

My tag line on Twitter? “The kids are all right. The dog too. The plants, not so much.” (Someone told me yesterday that just means my priorities are in order. I’ll take that.)

However, when my son was in K-4 two years ago, at the end of the year, for Mother’s Day, he and all his little classmates presented each one of us moms with a potted African violet. They had potted the little things themselves and cared for them in the classroom for a few weeks. He was quite proud of the little plant, and given the love that had been put into the gift, I just had to see to it that the thing was taken care of.

At the time he gave me the plant, it was not blooming. Everyone else’s was. It was, essentially, a leaf. (Sometimes God has a sense of humor.) I was determined to make it bloom.

So I put it in a window and watered it. It appeared to be fine, but did not bloom. I watered it a little more. Still no flower. A little less. Nothing. I tried more sun, less sun, plant fertilizer, talking to it, everything I could think of, to no avail.

I threw my hands up. “I’m doing good to keep it alive at this point,” I told myself, and quit worrying about it. Shortly thereafter, we went out of town for about a week. I took the little plant next door to my neighbor and asked her to care for it while we were gone. I told her just to give it enough water to keep it from getting dry and let it get some (but not too much) sun. Same treatment it had gotten all along.

When we returned, I went next door to retrieve the plant. You guessed it. It had bloomed, one tiny, delicate little flower. Coincidence or different care? Who knows?

Maybe, just maybe, when I stopped attempting to manipulate the thing, it was finally able to do what comes naturally.

What manipulates me? People and their agendas, finances, schedules, time. You name it. The world has a way of trying to make us all conform to its demands. It’s difficult to be “in the world but not of the world.” Once in a while, though, something happens that jolts us out of a worldly perspective. It’s often something painful.

Pruning is painful, but necessary.

People often use the phrase “bloom where you’re planted” as a word of advice for those going through a difficult time. (I’m not sure that’s always a wise use. There have been times in my life when, if someone had said that to me, my reaction would not have been a very gracious one. Sometimes, just because a thing may be true, does not mean that it is particularly helpful to be said aloud. “It was just God’s will” is another one in that category, but I digress.) My parents, though they may have not used this exact phrase, taught me that I shouldn’t “force” my life to look one way or another, but rather to let life work itself out and to be content in whatever God had planned for me.

I have, in general, tried to do that. But it’s not always easy.

It wasn’t easy when I was suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of my first child.

It wasn’t easy when I found myself in a job that forced me to choose, all or nothing, between the job and my family.

It wasn’t easy when I had two miscarriages in a row earlier this year.

rogersJOhn_15-2

Plants, to remain healthy and to bloom, must be pruned on occasion and, although it is the most painful kind of cut, people are much the same way. The pruning is just as important as the sun, the water, and the fertilizer. I’ll be the first to say, this stuff hurts. The stuff that takes your breath away, the stuff that exhausts you until you’re tired and numb, and the stuff that punches you in the gut, not once but over and over…let’s just be honest, that stuff just sucks. But the lessons I have learned through pain? They’ve stuck with me more permanently than the ones learned through joy. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it’s human nature, and God meets us where we are.

Your life, in the here and now, is uniquely yours.

Have you ever contemplated why you were born where you were? You may have done so upon stepping foot into a contemporary’s large, well-furnished home in the best neighborhood. You have certainly done so if you’ve come in contact with the severely less fortunate, be it in a foreign country or just a few streets over. But, whether others’ circumstances are disadvantaged or well off, you weren’t placed into those situations. Your life, in the here and now, is uniquely your own, not by chance or coincidence, but by design.

rogersCS_Lewis_quote

Full circle.

So, does “blooming where you’re planted” mean you shouldn’t take steps to change a bad situation? Of course not. (If you’re wondering, I quit that job.) Nor does it mean you shouldn’t plan for the future.

It also doesn’t mean that your “bloom” has to look just like someone else’s. Your friend Suzie Sunshine keeps her house perfectly clean/puts a home cooked meal on the table every night/mails her Christmas cards out on time every year but, try as you might, you can’t seem to do the same? So what? Maybe you are a different kind of flower. Think about it. The most beautiful garden in the world would be incredibly lackluster if every flower in it were exactly the same.

For me, it means that I live in the present.

That I learn from all of my experiences, good and bad, and make them mean something.

And that I don’t let the world’s demands keep me from finding and fulfilling my present…and unique…purpose.

 

headshot sepia Jenny Mac claims both Oxford, MS and Auburn, AL as hometowns, but for the past ten years has been enjoying the life she and her husband, Noel, have made for themselves in South Mississippi. She writes about family, life as a working mom, things she loves (like college football), things she doesn’t (like revolving doors), and the things she sees God doing in her life and the life of others. You can find Jenny Mac at Crumbs Under the Table .

Brie Gowen August 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for sharing.

Kayla August 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Loved this post!!

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