Blooming With Patience
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The earth laughs in flowers." I am inclined to agree with him, since few things in this world bring me the same singular sense of joy as watching a flower use its God-given power to bloom, flourish, and reach toward heaven with its brightly colored petals, as if offering a sign of worship to our Creator.
Recently, on a trip to the local nursery to gather the flowers, herbs, and vegetables that I am fostering in this summer season of abundance, I was struck with the observance that everyone seemed to have their own strategy for choosing the plants they would purchase and take home. Some people immediately reacted to the flowers that had the biggest and brightest blooms, grabbing them with eager hands, and placing them protectively in their shopping carts so that no one else could take their treasure. Others enlisted the opinions of shop employees to help them choose the plant that "looked the best."
Personally, I always select the plants that are not yet in bloom – the ones that do not boast the most eye-grabbing hues in the moment, but rather, hold the promise of abundance in their tightly held buds. This is a strategy that I learned from my mom during my childhood, when I would help her select flowers each summer that were not yet in bloom and led to a garden that flourished with beauty, possibility, and the very presence of God later in the season. While I am not generally a very patient person in most areas of my life, she and I still shop for flowers by looking for those that promise to thrive since gardening is one of the few times when I can appreciate waiting and witnessing the journey from bud to bloom.
Our faith lives are much like shopping for flowers. There will always be something flashy and overtly appealing about a relationship with Christ placed right in front of us that makes our connection seem simple; something that we can grab onto without much patience or effort. While there is definitely nothing wrong with celebrating God's immediate presence (in fact, we should regularly appreciate His obvious works), there is also something to be said for practicing patience in our relationship with Him. When we can watch His goodness grow within us, we have the unique opportunity to feel our hearts expand with His love as we bloom with His light.
A GRAB-AND-GO CULTURE
We live in a society where almost everything is immediate, and we seem to have the world at our fingertips (or on our phone screens). The people around us often pride themselves on finishing their tasks the fastest and accomplishing more in a day than the person next to them. We are barraged with encouragement to do the same – to get ahead by whatever means necessary and as quickly as possible. This lifestyle is not one that is very conducive to a patient, fruitful life, and yet, we cannot avoid messages telling us that in order to be considered successful, we need to throw the relaxed nature we may desire out the window. This grab-and-go culture may lead to fulfillment in the short-term, but will ultimately leave us feeling unfulfilled and primed for missteps in our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.
The Bible teems with stories of individuals who practiced patience and lived in constant faith of God, even when those around them did not approve of their choices (Abraham, Joseph, or Jesus, anyone?) As difficult as it may be, we need to place our hope in our God to bless us with patience, even when the world around us seems to move with an ever-quickened pace. The very word of God instructs: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2). But popular culture teaches that we should turn against these examples of ultimate patience in favor of our own desire for individual triumph. God has affirmed to us that there is no room for humility in a life that is focused on blooming without respect for seasons of waiting, despite the noise of the environment around us.
We're all familiar with the fact that patience is listed as one of the virtues of Christian living (Galatians 5:22-23), but do we truly understand just what that means for each of us, personally, as we walk in the light of Christ's desires for our lives? The virtue of waiting without complaint has become trivialized – seen as insignificant in the grand scheme of our immediate need, likely because practicing patience sometimes requires us to be temporarily uncomfortable. The blooms that are already on the plants that people were selecting at the nursery were, at one time, a less-than-beautiful collection of green buds. Those blooms had already gone through their time of perceived lack of beauty to become brightly colored blossoms. The customers who bought those plants missed out on the joyful celebration that is found in periods of waiting.
God made each of us to be perfectly imperfect, and has blessed each of us with the ability to practice patience in our lives: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had" (Romans 15:5). Like the plants at the nursery, we are not always in bloom and pleasing to the heart, and yet, He loves us with a fierce passion that has no equal. He sees the potential that lies in the buds of our souls, and nourishes us with His kindness and compassion. God sees the promise that lies within each of us to stand tall and flourish, and He is willing to be patient with us as we near our point of blooming. We need to follow His example and practice patience with ourselves, celebrating each small victory of our journey with Him, and looking ahead with excitement to the time when our next flower will bloom and we will exude renewed grace to the world around us.
How can you better practice patience with yourself, and with others, today?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Rebecca Flasz is an avid traveler, lifestyle writer, and elementary school teacher turned college professor. She holds degrees in Education at the Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and Doctorate of Education levels and has a heart for teaching others. In addition, she is a passionate free spirit who enjoys a good cup of tea, spending time outdoors with family, and listening to the sounds of wind chimes and singing birds. She believes in writing pieces that are reflective of the loving kindness of Christ, meant to help others feel worthy and loved. You can read more of Rebecca's writing on her blog Sagebrush and Salt.