I love flowers. Each spring I wait expectantly for my perennials to bloom and for my annuals to grow. All summer long, I watch and gather hope and courage from their beauty and hardy existence. When pounding rains come, I find myself hoping that my little flowery friends will survive the blast. And somehow they usually bounce back.

We had a really long winter in Minnesota this year, and our miniscule spring seemed reluctant to stay. We’ve had much more rain than usual. I’ve reminded myself that “April showers bring May flowers” so many times, but it’s the middle of June, for heaven’s sake!

With long-awaited anticipation, I checked the progress of my peony bushes dozens of times. It seemed to take forever, but the buds finally came, and I knew that any day I would be seeing luscious pale pink flowers begin to emerge.

Last night I dreamed that some kind person came over to help me prepare my yard for the summer. I wasn’t sure who had done it, which ended up being for the best. Because in my dream, that person trimmed all my trees and bushes, including my only peony bush, just as it had begun to bud. I was heartbroken — in my dream, of course. I awoke thankful that it had only been a dream. Much to my surprise, when I went outside I discovered that overnight my amazing flowery friends had begun to bloom! Maybe because of the dream, their mysterious unfolding process has reminded me of lessons I can apply to my own life.

  1. Progress takes time and persistence. When we invest in personal growth and anticipate the response, sometimes it’s easy to forget that all growth takes time. The pounding rains don’t just feed the roots of the peony plant, they help it to become heartier and stronger to withstand the storms of life in the flower’s short lifespan.
  2. The process isn’t always beautiful. Sometimes I think my life should be easier than it is. I don’t always want to deal with the struggles of life. In order for a peony flower to open, ants assist in the process. Just to be clear, that is NOT the way I would have chosen to make it work! But the ants are necessary, crawling around on the flower bud, helping them to open and to be ready to become the luscious flowers I so enjoy. And the issues of life, whether we like it or not, help us to become stronger and more ready to be all that God has intended for us to become.
  3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoy every step of the process of my peonies blooming. Part of my happiness is knowing what will come of the process. I probably wouldn’t enjoy the early growth of the plant, nor the tightly formed budding growth, if I didn’t understand where they would lead. In our busyness and high expectations for life, we sometimes discount the growth and change processes we walk through. It’s not about the destination as much as it is about enjoying the journey. When we see ourselves through the eyes of the One who created us, we can give ourselves time and grace for where we are in the process of becoming.
  4. All good things take time. Much to our dismay, we must allow ourselves to trust God in the processes in our lives. He is with us each day as we face challenges in life. Even though he may seem distant, uninvolved, or even uncaring about the process, the truth is that he is a kind, loving caretaker that loves and cheers for us through every part of our lives and all that we encounter. We can trust him to help us when we need it.

Contemplating peonies – who would have thought I’d have more hope for the day?

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.” Psalm 46:5.