There’s a rogue sunflower growing in my flower pot. It’s tall and strong and going to bloom any day now.
I didn’t plant it. The birds did. But now that I see it there I’m wishing I could take credit for the idea.
Kind of like I wish I could take credit for the good things in my life. But I can’t.
Because it wasn’t my idea. It was God’s.
It’s an old saying. “Bloom where you are planted.” The idea is to make the most of yourself wherever you find yourself, even if where you find yourself isn’t where you thought you’d be.
Too often we think more about “what might have been” than “what is”. We lament those unexpected and even forced changes of direction that sent us on a different path. “I was headed that way but life took me this way.” We sit on the sofa, sipping sweet tea wondering, as Bugs Bunny did, what would have happened had we not taken that left turn at Albuquerque?
The idea of A+B=C, that life is sequential and linear in direction only happens in theory. This mindset isn’t entirely our fault. We grow up with it. We begin school in kindergarten, then 1st grade, then 2nd, etc, through 12th. College level classes start with 100, then 200, 300, and when you’re a senior, 400. (If you wondered, as I did, if Master’s level classes start at 500, they do.)
In that senior college business class the professor has you write your “5-Year Plan”. And because everything else in your life has unfolded in order and proper sequence, you think the rest of your life will, too.
“Let’s see. My plan is to finish college, get a job, earn my Master’s degree, get engaged, get married, move up the corporate ladder, buy a split level house in the ‘burbs, have 2.5 kids, a BMW, a couple Big Wheels in the driveway, and a Poodle that thinks it’s a real dog.”
When any or all of these don’t happen or happen differently, our direction is changed. The company downsizes just as we begin our climb up the ladder. The 2.5 kids come much sooner, or much later, than we plan. The house in the ‘burbs is a too small two bedroom, two bath apartment for too long. And that Master’s degree gets put on hold because of braces and bills. Not to mention broken belts on the Buick that was supposed to be a BMW.
“Bloom where you’re planted” isn’t easy when we don’t have a say in where we hoped to grow.
Lubbock, Texas was never on my list. I’ve lived here 12 years now and, with due respect, I’m not sure it’s even on the list of people born and raised here. If you had a dollar for every person in their dreamy youth who said, “As God as my witness, someday I’ll make it to Lubbock!” you wouldn’t have enough for a Krispy Kreme and a coffee.
Yet here I am. This wasn’t in my plan. God planted me here. And had He not, how much I would have missed! The wonderful people. The deep friendships. The opportunity to teach and preach, to write and consult. The privilege of speaking God’s truth into my students. Lubbock was never on my list. But it was written down in God’s book before time began (Psalm 139). It’s not been an easy go. Yet I’m so thankful to be blooming in the South Plains of Texas.
For sure, I’ve done my share of sofa sitting and sweet tea sipping, wondering what life would have been like in Iowa. Or Milwaukee. Or Connecticut. Or Arizona. All those fork in the road moments of my life where direction was the question.
Yet I’m learning, sometimes kicking and screaming, that successful living is more about the “what?” than the “where?” The where can be anywhere. It’s the what that counts. What does God have for you to do? What has He gifted you to do? And are you doing it where you’ve been planted?
The calling of every Christian is to point people to Jesus by using the unique gifts, talents and personality God has given them. If we’re not pointing people to Jesus where we are, going anywhere else is a lateral move. If you’re not pointing people to Jesus while you’re in Lubbock, moving to Los Angeles just means you’re not pointing people to Jesus in a bigger place.
Too often we think more about what might have been than what is. When we do this, we’re not seeing God’s hand in where He’s planted us. Simply put, don’t lament “what never was” without acknowledging the blessing of “what is”.
Then ask yourself the hard question, “Am I living fully where I am?”
If the answer is no, stop looking for a different location. Dig in, sink some roots, and focus on the “what?” God has for you. He will bless your efforts.
The “where?” doesn’t matter. What matters is that you bloom.
Todd A. Thompson – One Eye Out