Right now, it’s hard to think about flowers because in Middle Tennessee we’re expecting our 3rd “big snow” of the year and it isn’t even February yet!
But, as I was reading this week for my class (during one of the few days my son was actually in school!), the following really resonated with me. It is from a book entitled, “Seeking God Together” by Alice Fryling. She talks about how different flowers need sun and some need shade to flourish and some tolerate heat better than others. She proceeds with, “Flowers, like people, need different environments to flourish. Sometimes we forget that with our fellow human beings. The problem with that forgetfulness is that it causes us to assume that all people are like we ourselves are.”
What a wonderful reminder and how thankful we can be that our garden of life can be full of a beautiful variety of flowers. However, as Fryling notes, this forgetfulness causes us to think that everyone should think, act, eat, sleep, write, respond, grow, serve, parent, pray, study, and discipline themselves the same way we do. This is dangerous territory. I am so guilty of seeing things the way I think they should be and not understanding how everyone around me can’t see how “obvious” the answers are for their lives. But, God is the ONLY one who knows best for each of us and if I don’t acknowledge that fact, I’m only going to be disappointed by everyone around me. Because even if I transplanted everyone’s flowers to my environment, they are likely not all going to make it. Some might flourish but others will fade.
As we take the time to learn about ourselves and the ones we love this serves as a fresh reminder that God made each of us different… purposely. That fact is to be celebrated rather than dreaded.
Also in our garden, many of us are concerned with the fact that we appear different from the other flowers. We may stick out too much or not stand out enough. Our petals may not be colorful enough or maybe they are too colorful. We often worry that we will be the last flower ever picked or the first one trampled on because no one notices. Only God can confirm our confidence, not the other flowers. He is our Gardner. I believe He is tending to each of us, his beautiful flowers, in the garden of everyday life…whether or not we let Him.
Unfortunately for many of us, we aren’t sure what kind of flower God made us to be. We’ve been in environments for so long that we’ve become acclimated to them and we’ve adjusted to functioning with a certain amount of sunlight or food. But, I think that He wants us to realize that this is one way we differ from a garden as we know it. As long as He is in control, we don’t have to wonder if we’re going to be watered or get the sunlight we need.
So, even with the snow looming, let’s take confidence in the beautiful flowers He made each of us to be and try to notice and appreciate the beauty of the many different flowers surrounding us in this garden as well. That, my fellow flowers, is Spiritual Formation!
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC