One of my favorite podcasts right now is called Strangers. On this show, the host enters into the lives of completely ordinary people and always finds some extraordinary story to share. The show is an emotional journey week to week, evoking everything from tears to anger to laughter. As a whole, the show is a beautiful reminder that we are all more alike than we are different.
On a special edition episode, the host had listeners share one piece of advice that had a profound impact upon their life. Of the maybe dozen pieces of advice, there was one in particular which stood out. One piece of advice which really hit me in between the eyes, and one I believe you will benefit from as well.
This advice came from a young woman in her early 30s. She was a military wife and because of her husband’s position in the army they had to pick up and move every 12 to 18 months. This woman grew up in a small town. She was used to familiarity and routine. She craved the comfort that can only come from having “deep roots.” Before long, the constant moving caused her to fall into a depression. She felt like her life was always on hold because it was always changing. In her mind, she couldn’t be truly happy until the continual moving ended and she was where she was supposed to be.
During this depression, she met an older woman who had also spent the earlier part of her life jumping from one place to another. They connected over their similar fates and the younger woman began to pour out all of her frustrations and sadness over the situation. The older woman understood her pain, probably better than anyone else ever could. Finally, the younger woman ended with a question, what should I do?
The stranger who had become a friend answered, Bloom where you’re planted.
To bloom where you’re planted means to make the most of where you are right now.
I have always had a difficult time with this concept. When I was in school, I dreamed of being in college and invested all of my time and energy towards getting there. When I was in college, my mind looked forward to life in the real world, and so once again I sacrificed enjoying the present in order to plan the perfect future. Fast forward to today, I am finished with college and seminary, I have a full time job and a beautiful wife, and yet still I find myself struggling to enjoy the present – to make the most of where I am right now – because I have made it a habit of “living” in the future.
I justify it with phrases like I’ll feel better when we’ve hit this milestone, or I’ve crossed off this goal, or I’m making this much money. I tie my happiness to things beyond me. I chain my worth to an ever moving target and am genuinely shocked when I realize that even after achieving one of those goals, I look up only to see that the target has moved once again.
And I don’t believe I’m the only one who feels like this.
Are you someone who is always looking forward to what’s next at the cost of enjoying what’s right in front of you? Have you put your happiness or self-worth on hold until you reach that thing you’ve been working towards for so long?
I want to share the same advice that older woman shared above: bloom where you’re planted.
I think the best example of this in Scripture is the character Joseph. Joseph literally had a God-given dream. He knew he was meant for great things. He believed his life had purpose and value and yet he could have never guessed the wild path it would take.
Joseph went from almost being killed by his brothers to working as a slave. From there his situation only got worse as he was falsely accused and thrown in jail – not for a few days – but for years. Joseph had every right to “live” in the future. He could have complained over the horrific cards he had been dealt and grew bitter as he waited for God to show up and miraculously change his situation.
But he didn’t. Instead, Joseph chose to bloom where he was planted. As a slave, he became the most trustworthy servant in the house. As a prisoner, he became the most respectful and reliable inmate. Finally, as the right hand man to the Pharaoh he did not use his new found power to seek revenge, but instead became the best adviser he could be and a beacon of forgiveness to his family.
I wonder if Joseph ever would have gotten to where he was supposed to be if he hadn’t bloomed in all those places along the way.
I wonder if we can truly fulfill the call God has placed on our lives if we are not making the most of where we are right now.
I think the answer is no. More than that, I think it may be impossible to get there if we neglect the here and now. So bloom. Live as though you are exactly where you need to be, working the job you need to do, loving the people in your path. Because in reality there is no perfect then, only a beautiful now.