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
It has been a delight to get to know and enjoy you. I so love hearing your reflections and your ability to see how the struggle encouraged you. What do I pray for my people? My people. My lifelong struggle has been feeling alone and not understanding why. After decades and hard work, I no longer see most people as “stranger”. So praying for my people is praying for everyone. Especially each that I become aware of as they cross my path. I believe they cross my path because God knows our rising up and lying down, so I try to stay present and notice. And listen. What is important about this “chance” meeting? I pray for me to show up in each of these moments fully believing God is already there and at work. What adventure is available, what song, by this meeting, this blessing, this bruised gardenia?
how refreshing to hear that in our culture of scarcity, this is an example of God’s abundance…woven through these thoughts of yours is an ongoing cycle of creation, fall, rebellion and then redeemption..you have shown us that whether it is our rebellion or someone else’s that affects us, we can risk hoping for healing and new beginnings
Tonia, I love the themes you drew forward as you read and reflected. It is humbling to discover more about the mystery God is revealing as I consider each comment here. He is so faithful to redeem, to rewrite the story and use for good what our own sin or the rebellion of another means for evil. Thank you for this powerful prompt. Jesus used it for abundance. Xo, Sarah
Thank you for sharing Sarah. Lovely imagery. I love that your parents had such a special party for you. And to hear how it has flourished throughout your life, even when it may not have seemed so. Hugs, Jane
Thank you for your kind words, Jane. It’s funny, I hadn’t drawn the connections between those prayers for me at age 13 and the resulting roots God’s been growing in me ever since until I started writing this week. How faithful he is to keep working and weaving his presence and our growth even when we don’t see it until much later. Hugs, Sarah
Such a beautiful word picture Sarah! God is so good. It’s true we are all evolving. We are not in or out. It is a blessing to walk by your side as your blossom and bloom.
Thank you for walking with me and creating a safe place for those seasons of blossoming, pruning and growing deeper roots. You’re a gift to my heart in every new chapter, Shelby.