Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. – Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)
Every year I get flowers for Mother’s Day. And every year by July Fourth they’re pathetic looking. Or gone to that great garden in the sky. The healthiest looking ones—if you even want to use the word “healthy”—are all leaves and no blossoms.
Why don’t they bloom? I wondered. I water them when the soil is dry, pouring until the water exits from the hole in the bottom of the pot. (Okay, sometimes the plants are wilted before I remember.) I feed them plant food every other week, using a special kind called “Bloom Booster.” I follow the directions on the package and measure carefully to make sure I don’t use too much or too little. I remove the dead blossoms faithfully.
Do I water them too much and the roots rot out? Or too little? Maybe my body emits too much static electricity (which is why I can’t wear watches) and that affects them.
Even my kids teased me when the church gave flower plants for Mother’s Day: “Pick your next victim, Mom.”
Every year the flower season begins with so much hope. And every year that hope wilts and dies with the blossoms. I concluded that I simply have a black thumb.
This year I decided no flowers. I wasn’t going to put myself (or them) through the angst.
But my husband surprised me on Mother’s Day with a hanging basket of petunias and a flat of marigolds and petunias.
Now, marigolds have always thrived in spite of me. But the petunias . . .
Sure enough, once the blossoms died, I had a green jungle.
“Where did all the flowers go?” my husband asked me one day.
“Oh, you know me and flowers,” I said. “They take one look at me and say, ‘Oh, it’s her’ and give up the ghost.”
“Are you . . .” He went through the now familiar checklist. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing . . . except . . .
“Wait!” I hurried to the kitchen and brought out the labels that came with the flowers, which gave detailed directions for the care of that particular plant.
The petunia’s label read “I love sun.” (And “I’m super easy to grow.” Right.)
“Maybe that’s why it isn’t blooming,” I said. “It’ supposed to get at least six hours of sun daily. It’s not getting enough sunlight.”
I’d hung the basket on the back deck, which gets plenty of light, but little to no direct sunlight. So I moved the plant to the sunny side of the deck. Sure enough, it began to perk up.
That was a couple of weeks ago. Today Viola (I named her, and, yes, I talk to her every day) is bursting with pink, purple, and white flowers.
One little detail—one important detail—made all the difference.
Just like the flowers, God created each person unique. Some thrive in the sun, others in the shade. It’s important to know the difference.
And it’s important not to compare.
The petunia, which loves the sun, doesn’t wish it were an impatiens, which thrives in the shade. Nor does the impatiens wish it were a petunia. They just bloom and give joy to all who gaze upon their beauty.
Shouldn’t we do the same?
Help me to be sensitive, Lord, to the way You made others. Give me the wisdom to perceive whether they thrive in the sun or in the shade, and to treat them accordingly. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Genesis 1