These beauties are blossoming out front again!! I love seeing their stalks start to rise and watching as the ants do their thing. As they morph from stalk to bud to blooming flower that takes my breath away at times, I become excited for the day they will bloom tall and proud along my front wall. There is this entire ecosystem I don’t fully understand but it brings me these beautiful flowers each year that will outlast me and maybe my grandchildren. I don’t have to do anything from year to year – they just arrive, ready to show off for me and others who pass by.
Each time I walk past them when they are in full bloom, I smile. As I did today, I thought of a few things that have been consistent messages I’m hearing lately. Maybe this will speak to some of you who are in seasons of blooming. I pray it does.
1. You don’t know what someone has been through to get where they are.
When I look at these flowers, I don’t think about who planted them, when they did, what they had to do to make them rise so beautifully. I don’t think of the root structure or all that is taking place underground with nutrients and predators and such. I don’t consider the ants or other pests whose actions actually helped the plant to become so beautiful and healthy.
We are like this with others. We want their lives but don’t consider the struggle that they went through to get there. We see their home or career but we don’t realize the battle they fought with domestic violence or the hours and hours of schoolwork while others were establishing friendships. We see the beautiful Christmas card family but don’t realize they went through rounds and rounds of IVF and battling family’s moral opinions and unsolicited feedback on how they should give up and adopt. We see the family sitting together in church happily not realizing it was falling apart three years ago due to a miscarriage. We see the exterior but we don’t understand the scars underneath the fine appearance.
On the flip side, when we’ve known someone for a long time, we often forget about the old days – even with good things. For example, 18 years ago I didn’t own a pair of jeans. I worked in a corporate environment and we wore pants and skirts all the time. I was seldom dressed down and almost always dressed up. I remember going to New York and buying my first pair of jeans, so excited to be buying a pair in the City! I kept them until they were falling apart!! Today…if you see me in a dress you should KNOW I think highly of the person being honored or sacrificed my comfort for someone who I respect because of a celebration or event for them. I just don’t like wearing anything outside of jeans and t-shirts – sometimes with a sleeveless sweater over it. My oldest daughter knew me as stylish while my youngest knows me as comfortable. People who know me today would not think of me as someone with a corporate job and three-piece suits, and people who knew me then would not think I would currently live in jeans and t-shirts!
We have a hard time thinking too far back or too far ahead when it comes to there unless they have personally hurt us. This needs to stop. We need to really take time to understand others and how they got where they are so we can respect their journey and celebrate their success. We need to stop wanting others’ lives and instead get to know one another for the sake of the relationship. It comparison. Let’s stop envying others and instead consider the work it took to become them as we work to become all that we are.
2. You don’t know the work that went into something prior to you receiving it.
Similar to the above thoughts about how we don’t consider all that goes into the flower blooming each year, we don’t consider what goes into a program before we are asked to step in and lead it, or what amount of saving went into purchasing that gift we were given on our last birthday. We simply step in and start leading or we accept the gift and say thank you. But if we knew the effort that went into it being ready for us, would we just start leading or just say thanks or would we put more thought into our actions and words?
Let’s take more time to appreciate what happens before something enters our world. Whether it is a child we are given to raise through adoption or a program we are hired to bring into the next phase. Whether it is a gift we are given by a friend or a word we are given from a complete stranger. Let’s consider what goes into the exchange.
These flowers can last over 100 years – that means they could have been planted by someone long before my parents or I were even a thought! I am being blessed because of a lot of work that went into picking the right spot and ensuring they were planted just right however long ago they were planted! Let’s be sure to treat everything we receive as though it were a gift passed down from generations.
3. Sometimes what looks or feels like a pest can be helpful to your growth.
Ants crawl all over these flowers and do so to eat the nectar. However they do this as a reward for attacking other pests that hurt the flower. Isn’t this like life? There are people around us that we see as pests (just being real). We wonder why they are always in our business or why they seem to always show up where we are. We regard them based upon our emotions instead of looking with God’s eyes.
Some of the folks who love to talk about you will become your best marketing tool when you make it! They will be quick to talk about how they can’t believe YOU made it with all your past mistakes and all. Say “Hallelujah” and move on. Let the rise up some supporters who hear your story and realize if it could happen to you, God can do it with anyone!!
Some of the folks who are always where you are need a friend like you to speak life into them. They are trying to learn from you and they aren’t able to find it somewhere else. They see you as a role model and someone they look up to. But you’re still struggling to see yourself that way so you see them as a pest when you should be seeing them an opportunity to finally be who you’ve been called to be! Start living in your truth instead of living up to your past!
Peonies are beautiful flowers. Our lives should be beautiful and blooming as well. But sometimes to get there, we need to check our roots, test our soil, and ensure we have the right pests helping us out! As we ensure we are in the right conditions for blooming, surrender to living in our purpose no matter how far that is from our plans, and have faith we will reach our destination, we will find that we bloom beautifully right where we are supposed to!
Until next time,