I grew in a family where everyone has a green thumb and is proud of it. My mom taught me at an early age to love dirt (which I still don’t), how to break the roots on plants when putting them in the soil, and especially what the difference between an annual and perennial is. She is the true flower gardner of our family!
One year, I had this grand idea to plant over 100 tulips. You plant tulips in early to late fall so they bloom in the early to mid spring. In my mind I envisioned this multi-colored flower bed with perfect tulips popping up, bees buzzing about, and me looking on with pride as my mom walked by stunned at my green thumb skills. I went to Walmart bought 5 bags of bulbs and came home with them. My mom looked at me, knowing in her mind that (1) I wasn’t going to actually plant 100 bulbs alone, and (2) she would ultimately be the one planting each bulb as I drank tea from the cool of our airconditioned house. At the moment, I looked at her with disdain, grabbed my bulbs, a shovel, and some water as I headed out towards the flower bed. I began digging holes and throwing bulbs in. My mom walked out and saw my fine-tuned skills. She stopped me on about the 20th bulb and said, “Hannah, you aren’t planting them right, the bulbs have to go in a certain way and they have to be a certain depth.” She took the shovel and began digging up my bulbs. As I watched her dig up the bulbs and replant, I remember thinking that she was right. I didn’t have time for this and I would have to do this for every bulb?! What a crazy idea! I told her she could take over if she wanted and I walked back inside. About an hour or so later, she came in the house with dirt all over her. She planted all 100 bulbs and told me, “Hannah, we are never doing this again!” A few months later, when the tulips started to bloom, only about 10 of the 100 actually bloomed. Devastated, my mom told me to never count on that idea again! Honestly, I can’t blame her. We eventually learned that there are moles and voles that eat plant bulbs. Who knew.
When I began thinking about that now hilarious story, I pictured all the time, dirt, and labor that went into that day. My lofty dream of 100 beautiful blooms was crushed thanks to a weird little underground animal that eats them for lunch. All of that to say, how crazy that something so beautiful and delicate as a tulip comes from something that looks dead and useless. But the part that interests me the most is tulip bulbs have to be planted during a certain time of fall (depending on your weather) in order to bloom in spring. It takes about six to seven months total for the bulb to break, roots to start growing, the green stalk to jut out of the ground, and the beautiful bloom to flower. Of course, tulips only last a few weeks, but in their peak they are stunning and the obvious first sign of a new season.
When I parallel the process of a tulip blooming to life seasons, I realize that everything is beautiful in its time. Just as Ecclesiastes 3:1-14says (bolded text mine),
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time.He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
As spring is still a few weeks away, I always get a little eager when Valentine’s begins to approach. Normally tiny pots of tulips start to be sold in stores and I just want all of them! But as I walk past each of those plants, I think about the beginning of that flower. When I parallel the beauty and process of it, I think about life, too. In time, everything becomes beautiful as Ecclesiastes says. I know the break up hurts, the job isn’t ideal, and if you could only “move on” to the next chapter, then life would be better. But will it really be better? When we grow through seasons and bloom, we find our processes are always intentional. We also realize that God’s plan is greater than our need to be consumed by “the greatest next thing” or the “immediate result.” There have been some seasons of my life I thought were too long. I didn’t think I needed to walk through the learning and obeying and would think, “Why can’t I just learn this a little more quickly and move on?” Only to be nudged gently by the Holy Spirit who reminded me that God’s timing is perfect. I’ve recently talked to so many people in different life stages who echo the same sentiment. They believe that if they could just get out of their season, then the next is what God really has for them. That way of thinking is poison. This season is what God has for you. Admittedly, I’ve done the same and said the same, and I’m always so convicted by it. I wouldn’t be where I am had it not been for the last season, and the same goes for you. You can trust that He won’t let you be a late bloomer. There’s a quote that says, “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.” I just really love that. The dark place isn’t God burying you to forget you, it’s God planting you to give you purpose. Just hang in there in a little while longer.
While you’re in a planting season waiting to bloom, here are a few ideas that have helped me the most in the darkest:
Keep encouraging scripture nearby. I post them on my desk, my phone background, my mirror, my car. Wherever I spend my time, you can bet there’s a verse or two reminding me of God’s faithfulness.
Make a special playlist. I literally have a playlist titled “Heart Songs” that keeps me encouraged. The playlist captures whatever I find my soul singing most often. I keep it on repeat all season long and add as I need to!
Keep a journal. Okay sure this is a given for me, but even if you aren’t a journaler or a writer, find some personal way to help you remember this season. Maybe it’s pictures, quotes, or a prayer list – whatever your thing is, do it! It’s so amazing to look back at God’s thumbprint through some seasons!
Find a friend. I know you might not feel comfortable sharing all the messy details of some seasons, but it’s important we share glimpses with those closest to us. Not only for accountability but for true encouragement. God always has a way of connecting us with those who need to be apart of some seasons in our lives!