by Patti Richter
The pastor’s wife handed out pens and sheets of paper as she posed a question at our women’s gathering: “If you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be, and why?”
As a young mother, my answer came readily to mind. I wrote that I would choose to be a chrysanthemum. I filled a few lines to explain that I hoped to be a late bloomer since my life thus far seemed unremarkable. That for several years I’d been pursuing a double major in Household Management and Successful Parenting.
The brief writing exercise served to reveal my desire to make my life count in a greater measure than the limits of my small sphere of influence. It also exposed self-centeredness or pride at the root of my desire. I could have listed several personal aspirations, but each one seemed to grow from the same longing to excel at something—anything.
I knew other young mothers who suffered with this not-uncommon identity issue. Our early morning quiet time began with packing school lunches; our evening wind-down session featured folding clothes.
This yearning for significance is not limited to mothers. Young people, especially in today’s be-all-that-you-can-be culture, feel pushed to excel much earlier in life than in previous generations. The comparison component has expanded along with the size of television screens over the years. And most of us can’t compete.
Even so, worldly wisdom advises us to shoot for the stars. And we’ve heard enough success stories to validate this whole-hearted pursuit of a dream. Yet Jesus taught us a better way, and his instructions won’t lead to the disappointment that can arrive on the vapor trails of unfulfilled goals.
Jesus told his followers not to be anxious about life, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).
This higher order of priorities yields a healthy perspective for us. We might go to bed at night having missed our workout at the gym, but we delivered a meal to a sick church member. Our vacation plans fizzled out, but we finally attended disaster relief training. Our heart is at peace knowing that it pleases God to serve the needs of others.
Our “summer” of opportunities may be over: the college degree we never earned; the house we never built; the career move we never made. Some seasons of life do not deliver the expected goods, and our soul may languish like stringy petunias and spent daylilies.
However, God does not forget us; the Master Gardner has a plan. Autumn is coming. We can look for the swell of chrysanthemum buds to anticipate days of glory. Just as surely, good things lie ahead: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV).
As we learn to wait on God and bask in his goodness, a transcendent joy brightens our outlook as if we’ve opened a window on a brilliant fall day.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. –Romans 11:36 ESV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.
Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
Join the conversation: Are you a late bloomer?