When the Blossoms Bruise and the Flowers Fall
Last winter, I joined an amazing group of women who gather to share a meal along with stories and thoughts we’ve written in response to a selected prompt. The prompts change each month, and often we’ve used those provided by Red Tent Living. But this month, our host suggested this title for our writing: “Songs of a Bruised Gardenia.” What would you write in response to this prompt?
As soon as I began writing today, I knew this was something God was inviting me to share with our Voice of Courage community. I hope you’re encouraged, challenged, or inspired in some way as you read. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you would be so kind to write a quick reflection in the comments box at the end of the page.
I’m praying for you, sisters. Keep on pressing forward.
Gardenias are lovely when they’re in their perfect form: symmetrical, pure, fresh, vibrant. Presentable. But distinctly other.
Un-bruised gardenias are unlike the messiness and bruises my own body and heart bear from real life, life on life with my loved ones; with the beautiful, imperfect world; and with my own imperfect mind, body, and soul.
My real life is much more like a bruised, creased gardenia: a bit trampled underfoot, a testimony of beauty, redemption, and pain. Broken in, but still alive, deeply connected to branches, leaves and vine. Firmly rooted.
“Firmly rooted,” a phrase borrowed from Colossians 2, is the prayer my parents prayed for me when I was turning thirteen. For this significant birthday, my mom and dad held a coming of age celebration with close family friends in Angels Meadow, a grassy, wild space with trees and a frog pond on the east end of the ministry property where they work.
As I look back over years of bruising and rooting since that day in May of ’99, what has come out on top is the rooting. The rooting wouldn’t be so deep without the bruising. And the gardenias may have been bruised to the point of breaking off for a time, but a new blossom, a new source of hope, a new story of healing has come every time in its place.
In place of 5 years of undiagnosable blocked digestion: Healing. Answers. Renewed energy. Manageable treatment.
In place of 3 deep heartbreaks: A marriage of joy, commitment, laughter, friendship, honesty, and understanding.
In place of 3 years of postpartum depression: Freedom from anxiety. Restored abundance, calm, patience, restored joy, openness to experience moments of melancholy, sadness, contentedness, and elation without fear that an all-consuming despair is waiting to take over again.
In place of people-fearing and friend-worship: Peace. Authenticity. Inclusion. Freedom from being defined by a place in a set group of people who think alike and shun anyone who is different.
In place of the lie that there is not room for one more singer, one more guitar player, one more speaker-writer-life coach- leader or awesome mother, the TRUTH that there is always room for one more at the table. When one woman rises, we are all inspired to rise. We all benefit when one is set free, when one tells the story of her bruises and looks towards the healing and the new blossoms to come. When she reminds us that blossoms don’t exist apart from the mother plant’s roots and stalk and, Jesus, our source, has not gone anywhere.
I am free, I am singing. I have been a bruised gardenia, but my bruised blossoms that initially caused me shock and grief have fallen away, and it turns out the roots were not weakened. The blossoms that so quickly impress and then weaken and fall to the ground still point back to the woody stalk and roots that are not affected by the attack, the sickness, or the loss.
Love sewed in prayer for me all these years has had the final word. May she be firmly rooted. Jesus heard and said amen. The roots won.
What do I pray for my little ones now? That they would grow deep roots towards his stream, deeper than any accolade, deeper than any talent, deeper than any pleasant season or beautiful bloom. That they would be strengthened and established in his favor. That they would live from those roots of love and undeserved merit, and welcome the flawless blossoms when they come, and not despair when they are bruised and broken off, knowing he is still with them and will restore to them far more than they ever lose and grieve in this life.
May this be my legacy. May this be the legacy of my sons. May this be the prayer I sew for all I know and all I will meet:
May the roots keep winning. May the bruised gardenias remind us to go deeper, to wait for the restoration, to believe that new blossoms will come, and to live for the connection to the main vine, not for the beauty of the flowers.
What do you pray for your people? What will you remember when the blossoms bruise and the flowers fall