by Emily Conrad
After last night’s storm, flowers bend their heads under the wet weight of their own beauty.
I waited and waited for buds to open, but as I photograph today’s unfurled blooms, damp with rain, I realize even after the big moment, these plants have needs.
Roses pull us closer, lovely and fragrant, but warn us against careless enjoyment with their thorns.
There sprouts an oak, still twenty years from its first acorn.
A columbine graces the corner of the yard with its quietly downcast face.
A magnolia boasts striking blossoms on tree limbs–tree limbs!–yet those flowers are at the mercy of frost.
A prolific dandelion fights to change our definition of lovely.
The flowering crabapple remains nondescript among trees except during wedding season, when it becomes the flower girl of sidewalks throughout the city.
A ruffled iris, an evergreen, a blade of grass.
Likewise, the bloom of my life unfolding is different from yours.
Each of us with strengths and weaknesses, each with our own gift to offer, our own calling.
The first of us to push through the soil is not always the first to bloom.
And even once we do, we bow under the weight of our gifts as we face the forces that grow and refine us.
In fact, if we didn’t open up, didn’t offer our gift to the world, perhaps we wouldn’t sometimes find ourselves bending to the point of breaking.
And yet, the Master Gardener planted us here and now for a reason, and when we respond to Him, we bloom.
That’s our role. To respond to our Maker. To flourish without fear.
And so, we do. And when we do, the good but difficult feedback of a wise advisor rains on our fervor, yet we use that to come back stronger. The time of waiting stretches like a drought, forcing us to sink our roots deeper into the river that will never run dry. Our plans fall like sunflower seeds scattered on the October ground, always with hope of new life.
We thought, perhaps, that we’d have arrived by now. That we would’ve become self-sustaining. That we’d need nothing besides sunshine from here on out.
And yet, we find a different truth.
However sufficient we may imagine ourselves, we’re still formed of dirt. We still need to be rooted and grounded in Christ. And we certainly don’t live by sunshine alone.
But that’s part of the beauty of it, isn’t it?
The beauty despite the struggle. Our weakness, the Creator and Sustainer’s strength.
Rain may bow our heads, but even in our trials—in fact, because of our trials—we grow.
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. James 1:2-4, NET
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5, NET
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