La Vie En Rose

ImageI realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on this blog.  Part of it has to do with the fact that my well of creativity hath runneth dry, and the other part has to do with the fact that I’ve just been in a weird, dark place in my life.

The reason I’ve come out of hibernation is because I want to share with you something awesome God showed me a short while back.  But first, let me set this up for you.

When I was a tiny coffee bean of a little girl, I was very curious.  I was new to the world and had a lot of questions about how it functioned.  Much to my father’s dismay, he became my personal Google.

My poor dad had to hear this squeaky 3-year-old ask, “Why?” over and over and over again.  I asked questions ranging from “How will I know when I can read?” to “What am I going to be when I grow up?”  You know, the small questions of life (and I swear, I actually asked these questions at this age).

At some point during my seemingly endless line of questioning, I asked my dad how flowers grew.  Instead of just providing a verbal answer, he gave me a visual aid by drawing each step of the growth cycle of a flower.  He then put each picture in a plastic sleeve and bound them together in a folder.  Doing this bought him maybe one minute of relief from my rapid fire of questioning and gave me one of my most treasured possessions.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I had a similar encounter but this time with my Heavenly Father.

Like I said earlier, I had been going through quite the rough season in my life (actually, I still am).  I felt pressed in on every side with no sign of relief and God was the last person I wanted to talk to.  I doubted, I questioned, felt abandoned and forgotten, and only saw darkness surrounding me.

It’s not that everything was going wrong in my life, but I was definitely walking around with a broken heart.  It was a struggle to get up every morning and put on a brave face – some days were easier than others – but my smile was just a cover up for the brokenness I was enduring.

So one day I was just going about my business, not really thinking about much or even seeking God for answers, and I heard him speak to me about the growth of a flower, but from the perspective of a seed.  Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize He was talking about me.

Here’s what God spoke to me: first, the seed (you) is planted in rich soil.  It’s pressed down deep, completely surrounded in darkness.  It can’t see or feel the sun, but it’s there.  It doesn’t know how or when it will sprout, but it will.  A seed cannot see the gardener, but the gardener is there, above ground, tending to the seed, watering it, giving it air and sunshine.

Now, the job of the seed is to be still and allow change to happen in its time.  It will be dark for a while and, at times, uncomfortable as it sprouts roots and starts pushing to the top.  And one day, the seed will not only break through the surface, it will become a beautiful, fragrant flower giving great pleasure to the gardener.

Pretty cool, right?  I thought so.  I also found it terrifying and felt claustrophobic because I understood where I was in that picture.  I was the seed pressed in on every side unable to feel any sense of hope for breakthrough or the existence of an ever-present gardener.

I’ve also come to understand that this metaphor applies to many facets of life.  It’s a great picture about our lives from start to finish, but it also applies to seasons of life.  Right now, I don’t feel so pressed down (maybe I’m starting to sprout), but I still don’t see the breakthrough happening.  But there have been other times in my life when I’ve been above the surface and have felt the sun shining on me.  So even when my next breakthrough comes, I can also be sure that I will be the seed once again.  It’s a constant cycle, one that does not end until we’re plucked from the earth and enjoyed at the Creator’s table.

I hope that wherever you are at in your growth cycle that you remember that you are not gone from God’s sight.  He has planted you right where he wants you for a reason and will see you through every phase of growth.  Be still, trust in his timing for change, and when it’s right, you will bloom into the fullness of all that God has created you to be.

Look at life through rose colored glasses, even when you’re a seed covered in dirt.


Band of Gold

Sometimes I really don’t know if owning up to my nerdy interests is hurting or helping my social life.  I’m the kind of girl who reads for fun (gasp!), digs superheroes, loves British television (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who – I’m officially in love with the 10th Doctor, btw), and would much rather attend Comic Con than a girly tea party any day… unless that tea party happens to take place in London in which case I’m grabbing my biggest hat and heading out the door (supposing a Tardis isn’t already available, of course – see Doctor Who reference).

But whether or not you’re as well versed in the nerd culture as I am, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the fandom that is the Lord of the Rings.  You know, hobbits, wizards, creepy, balding, bipolar creatures obsessed with jewelry – that stuff, them peoples.  The movies are epic, the books are… difficult, and the soundtrack is inspiring.  It’s the stuff that great novels and their spin-offs are made of.

One of the more famous characters from the Lord of the Rings franchise is Gollum.  He’s that creepy, bone thin, overly cooked hot dog, wide-eyed, creature who openly expresses his obsession with “the ring.”  The sight of him creeps me out and every time he calls the ring his “prrreeccciouuuusss” I just want to throw him in the river.  Yes, I feel that passionately about him.

However, as much as I don’t like him, he’s probably, in my opinion, one of the most well written characters throughout literary history.  Tolkien didn’t settle on creating Gollum to be a one-dimensional character; Gollum is, in one body, two people.  He is Gollum (the evil version of himself) and Smeagol (the nicer, yet equally creepy version of himself).

Gollum is the guy who is overcome with selfishness, greed, and obsession.  Smeagol, meanwhile, hates the ring for the way it has overtaken his life.  He wants the ring destroyed because the ring is destroying him.

I don’t know if Tolkien purposely wrote this character to show the human battle between flesh and spirit and right and wrong, but that’s exactly what he did by creating this literary enigma.

There was one time in my very early years when in a toy store I spotted a kid-sized red car with a yellow top.  According to my parents’ legend, I climbed in the car and it was a… “struggle” to get me out.  They said I never reacted that way to any toy and was never the kind of kid to get all crazy over stuff like that.  I’m still not, but I’m pretty sure if you put me in a Camaro or Dodge Challenger I’d have a similar reaction – just sayin’.

As it turns out, I did end up getting that car.  Just to clarify, my parents didn’t buy it for me that day – they didn’t reward bratty behavior and they’d definitely be the first ones to ship me off to Singapore if I ever acted like “that kid.”  Although my parents recognized my extreme passion for motor vehicles and would give me the world if they could, they understood the value of raising someone who isn’t given what they want simply because they demanded or felt entitled to receive it.  I’m thankful for having parents who know how to give me what I need over what I want.

I can say with 100% certainty this instance was the first and last time a material possession caused that kind of reaction in me.  I’ve learned that stuff is just stuff and if I really want something then I’ll work to get it and be content if it never becomes mine.  I am a non-material girl living in a material world.

My dreams on the other hand have become my “rings.”  Getting married, having the dream job, etc., have at one time or another turned me into the Gollum/Smeagol character.  These things, while certainly not bad in and of themselves, have caused me to act, well, crazy.  I’ve cried, whined, yelled, kicked, screamed – all the things extreme fits are made of.  At times, I’ve gotten so focused on WHAT I think my dreams should look like and WHEN I think they should happen that instead of being content and trusting in God’s plan and timing I straight up turn into a Gollum.

Fortunately, God – in all His love, grace, and mercy towards me – hasn’t given in to my crazy fits or demands.  He’s helped the Smeagol to overtake the Gollum in me and has given me the strength to overcome that nasty, obsessive, think I know better than the Creator of the Universe, mentality.

Yes, it’s an ongoing process, but He’s teaching me how to let go of my will so that His can be done.  And so far I’ve found that His way and timing (though not always to my liking) is far better than my own.  Oh to think of the bullets I have dodged.

Whatever your “rings” are in your life, stick ‘em in your pocket and continue on in your journey.  Yep, they’re going to call out to you, tempt you, and drive you crazy until you reach your destination, but it’s far better to own the ring than to be owned by the ring.

So carry on, Hobbits! Enjoy the journey and remember that the Author of your life knows the beginning, end, and every twist of your story.  You are His precious.