A wise woman once told me, “Bloom where you are planted.” I have clung to those words ever since, they have sort of become my life motto I guess you could say. At the time, my husband and I, newlyweds actually, had just moved from South Carolina to Ohio. Nick had taken a job as a high school youth pastor at a large United Methodist Church. We knew absolutely no one and had been plopped right in the middle of a sea of cornfields.
The first year was fun and carefree. I was still “playing house” and discovering what it means to be a wife and take care of my own domain or in our case, a one-bedroom apartment. And then came our one-year anniversary and it’s like I woke up from my dream. It finally hit me that I had moved almost 600 miles away from family and friends, from everything familiar and comfortable. Oh, the things you do for love…
I will never forget my conversation with this “oh so wise woman. “ She was a mom to two boys in our youth group and was one of the first to take us under her wing. She was originally from Mississippi and the common thread we shared, that being our southern roots was like a breath of fresh air to me. She had actually lived all over the place due to her husband’s job. She invited me out to lunch one day and was graciously pouring in to my soul. She knew what it was like to be far from family and friends. She also knew, that in order to thrive in a new and unfamiliar place, that it took courage and lots of grace. Maybe it was the scared look in my eyes or the loneliness that she could sense in my heart. She looked right at me and said, “ The best piece of advice I can give you is to ‘Bloom where you are planted.’” Her words that day were exactly what I needed to get me out of my funk and help me wake up.
It took two years for me to feel like I was finally starting to “bloom.” There were a lot of two steps forwards and one step back dancing going on. Two major life changes helped propel me forward. The first was the birth of our firstborn. Through that I met two other women who were pregnant at the same time with their first child as well. We started meeting every Friday morning and sharing breakfast together, taking turns at each other’s house with the babies in tow. We shared stories of sleepless nights, babies who had troubles breastfeeding, and how our bodies were forever changed. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to do life together with these new moms and hear them say, “Me too!” Our group grew as more moms joined us on Friday mornings and as we all started on our second child. It got so big that eventually no ones house was big enough to hold all of us and our 20 million kids with the ever-increasing chaos. But it was the most beautiful thing and in those moments, I bloomed, as I am sure those other moms did too.
The second was the change of my husband’s role at our church from high school youth pastor to teaching pastor. This was totally new territory for me. I knew how to come alongside him in guiding and loving on teenagers but this whole teaching pastor gig, had me like a fish out of water. I no longer knew how to support him or how I could help serve alongside him. While I was super proud of him and knew that this was where he was most gifted, I had a pity party for myself for well over a year. Side note: there’s much more to be said about all of this but what I’ve learned thus far about being a pastor’s wife is for me to share at another time. Anyways, finally one fall sitting at church feeling all alone, like no one understood what it was like to be a pastor’s wife or a wife of someone in ministry, I had a light bulb moment. With a church our size and so many people on staff, surely I couldn’t be the only pastor’s wife/ministry wife who had these struggles. So I reached out to some other wives and we started meeting every Wednesday night. We shared our joys and frustrations of life lived in ministry. We prayed with and for each other. We challenged each other in our marriages and in our walks with Christ. We were each other’s Aarons and Hurs holding each other’s arms up when we grew tired and weary. These women were some of the strongest, wisest, Jesus-lovin’, interrupted hopefuls that I have had the privilege of doing life with. My life was forever changed because of these women. And on those Wednesday nights for two years, I bloomed.
And now, I find myself once again in new territory. We recently moved back to South Carolina this past spring. While this is home, it’s changed and the people have changed over the last 6 years just like I have. I have been pondering that phrase again, “Bloom where you are planted,” and asking God in what ways He wants me to do just that. And maybe like me, you are finding yourself in new territory as well. Maybe for you, it’s a job change or the decision to quit work and stay at home. Bloom. Or maybe you are about to enter into motherhood or your nest is suddenly empty. Bloom. Whatever season you find yourself in, whatever new place, be all there and bloom where God has planted you. Don’t get caught up in dwelling on the past but be fully present and ready for the new adventures that await you. When you think you should be further ahead than you are, be kind and gracious to yourself. And know this, courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s being afraid but doing it anyway.