You might have noticed that I have a problem with pithy sayings. I blasted through one just a couple of weeks ago. (To read what I think about “Follow your dreams!”, click here.)
I get it. Really, I do. Short sayings are easy to remember. They inspire us, and we connect with the sentiment behind the person’s experience who first says them. Others think about it, often deepening or adding to the meaning, and we get caught up in all of it.
But sometimes, I think, we take these phrases too far. They take on a life of their own, and we grab hold of them without really thinking through what we’re advocating. What we’re pushing on others. Or what we’re binding ourselves to.
Bloom Where You Are Planted
It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. ~Robert H. Schuller
Bloom where you are planted is another one of those phrases we love. I’ve heard it for years, but it came to my attention recently as I prepared to launch A New Home for Allie during the Month of the Miltary Child. You see, the symbol chosen by some committee to represent military children is the dandelion. The motto that goes with it explains the reasoning fairly well: Children of the world, blown to all corners of the world. We bloom anywhere!
Kinda nice. Kinda. A field of dandelions can be pretty. They are hearty, the seeds spread easily, and the plants thrive in all kinds of environments. Still, I have trouble with the whole weed part—I (and probably many of you) actively try to keep dandelions out of my yard and away from my gardens. Not the kind of symbolism that leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy for military kids. But, I digress.
An unusual growing place.
The phrase recently started churning in my mind when I was out for a walk in my neighborhood. Coming around one cul-de-sac, I saw that one of the families had a portable basketball hoop positioned in the street near the edge of their driveway. Sandbags were laying across the bottom, keeping the hoop steady. A small flower was growing out of one of the bags.
This phrase instantly came to mind. Bloom where you are planted! Yes! I smiled at this small flower determined to grow wherever its little seed landed.
But . . . wait. It wasn’t really a flower. It was a weed. And weeds are things we yank out by the root and throw away. But, when it comes to the sentiment behind the saying, does that matter? Just because we may not find value in a weed, does that mean the phrase isn’t as applicable? As inspiring?
Other questions came to mind.
What if the wind blew the seed to this place where the plant is now blooming? Or a bird dropped its dinner? Or a young child dropped the young plant his mom had dug up near the bag rather than in the trash?
But again, does even that matter? After all, if God didn’t plant you there, then He allowed the planting. Right? If we consider that then we should bloom wherever we find ourselves.
But something still didn’t sit right.
Maybe the keyword is planted—as in, someone took the time to plant you there. So, that would be good, and you would be expected to bloom. But that’s assuming that the person who planted you was actually wanting the best for you. What if the person who planted you there doesn’t love you? What if, instead, they wanted to place you in an environment that would horribly challenge you? Maybe overwhelm and potentially defeat you?
Consider My Servant Job
As I thought through all of these questions, the Bible’s story of Job came to mind. In Chapter 1, he’s prosperous and dedicated to God. The end of verse sums it up by saying, “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” Job bloomed where he was planted.
But then hard times hit. Really hard times. His enemies took nearly everything from him, sweeping in to steal his oxen, donkeys, and camels, destroying his sheep, and killing his servants. A mighty wind even swept around the house his children were in, demolishing the house and killing all his kids.
Now, those who read the full chapter know that Satan instigated all this and God allowed it. Satan was convinced it would be too much for Job, but God had faith. God believed Job would still bloom in this new, harsh environment.
And he did. Oh, he waivered. He struggled with doubt, and he challenged his friends’ thinking. But he held fast to God and His promises, and the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first (Job 42:12).
Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out. ~Christopher Reeve
It can be tough to bloom where you are planted, especially if you don’t like where you currently find yourself. But God’s never asked us to like where we are.
He’s asked us to trust Him as He works in, around, and through us.
Trusting God has never entered Amber’s mind, and for ten years, she’s run from any person who wanted more than a surface relationship with her. Could God finally have her right where He wants her?
For years, Amber traipsed around the Northwest avoiding the skeletons in her closet. Job-hopping every few weeks, she refused to let anyone get close to her. As winter plants itself firmly across the Rockies, she decides to take a chance on a job at a logging company with a family different from any she’s ever known before. Watching the family interact creates more questions than answers for Amber. Feeling like she’s entered the happily-ever-after written at the end of fairytales, she watches for cracks in the façade. Surely as the days pass, the play-acting will cease and the real family will emerge. Or could she be wrong? Could this family hold the key to what she’s seeking?