There is this saying that many of us are familiar with that simply says, “Bloom where you’re planted.” It graces bumper stickers, window decals, plaques for your walls, stepping stones for your garden, and journals. It may even have colorful flowers and a contrasting border to aesthetically emphasize the motto. On the surface, it sounds like good advice.
While it is an encouraging sentiment, as I began to ponder it, I found that it lacked a fullness of truth. We tend to toss this pop psychology around when circumstances are difficult or undesirable in an effort to make the best of a situation.
Bloom—absolutely! Take stock of the environment and expectations and utilize what you can to enhance where you’ve been placed for that season.
I find the break down in fullness occurs around “…where you are planted.” Some take this to the extreme meaning one should never desire change or to better their station in life. This falls in line with a caste system or a very restrictive, possibly to the point of being oppressive, way of thought that embeds religions as well as cultures.
If our biblical heroes had followed this advice, they would not have been able to carry out the Great Commission. Consider the interplay of the Great Commission and the words prior to Jesus’ ascension taken together regarding “going”. The combination of the instructions indicates that going into further regions is imperative.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 ESV
It has been my experience, that sometimes a plant needs to be transplanted. Sometimes for the health or natural maturation of the plant, and other times for the sake of enhanced eye appeal. See, seeds which grow into fragile shoots may need to be hardened off to withstand various weather conditions. The conditioned sprouts are then transplanted so they can continue to grow and produce.
Other times, plants are growing too closely together and begin to crowd or have needs for more nutrients in the soil. In such instances, the plant is not moved to increase production, but to offer a space where it can better thrive.
Just like plants, God can move us. He may move us to strengthen a character trait. Perhaps it’s because our giftings are needed elsewhere, and sometimes He moves us because someone else is disobedient. In those instances, He’s conserving our energy and protecting our hearts.
We shouldn’t despair or run because something is difficult. We should embrace where He has us for that season.
What if Joseph refused to adapt to each new circumstance? Or Moses? Or Paul? It requires adaptation to move between surviving and thriving.
In Joseph’s case, dealing with hardship and adapting for each season meant going from being the favored son to being sold into slavery, gaining some station to work under Potiphar to then be imprisoned, again finding a measure of favor and helping to run the prison while remaining a prisoner, to then serving under Pharaoh.
In Moses’ case, it meant being born during a time male babies were being killed and then being adopted into the Pharaoh’s family by his daughter. Privilege was turned into exile when he let his rage go so far as to murder an Egyptian and yet, we largely think of the leadership Moses carried out. There were seasons of adaptation and growth in each set of circumstances.
Or how about Paul? The revered apostle who went from persecuting Christians to discipling them being himself persecuted, imprisoned, and surviving numerous trials and life-threatening circumstances. Paul didn’t stay in one place hoping to bloom only by writing instructions. Rather, he traveled extensively!
Choose to Bloom
Yes, I absolutely believe God is sovereign and has a purpose for our lives. I believe that He stations us, just as He stationed the heroes of our faith; moving us out of our comfort zones even to the point of calling us to move to other countries to serve as missionaries.
I believe that in each station, He not only has growth for us but also joy in the journey as we learn to embrace the circumstances, find joy despite the circumstances, and share this joy by seeing people through His eyes even to the point of loving the “unlovable”. It is in this respect, I feel that we are to walk in faith and obedience and bloom wherever He transplants us so that we can fulfill His directive to be salt and light to the world.
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