I purchased my first Hydrangea, a beautiful fuchsia variety. I’m still learning about the persnickety requirements of these glorious blooms. Whether it was the soil, sun, or good ol’ lack of love, for some reason the blooms started wilting.
I felt terrible for my precious plant and tried nurturing it as long as I could. I was told things like, “Yup, it’s dying. Let it go.” But my heart couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let it go.
See, I’ve loved hydrangeas my whole life. They’ve always been my favorite flower with their dainty yet mighty head. A perfect mix of soft and strong. Kind of like my own heart. If I were a flower I’d definitely bloom like a hydrangea. They are known to surprise you with new color variations depending on their soil conditions, which is much like my nature, ever-changing, ever-growing.
Then, I discovered a thing called “deadheading.” It sounds brutal. But it’s a pretty common process, especially relating to Hydrangeas.
Deadheading is cutting back what is no longer blooming to their fullest. They have passed their peak, and you have to cut the entire stem back without cutting off the leaves.
I did a bunch of YouTube surfing and figured I would try it, though my heart really had difficulty in cutting these half-beautiful, half-wilted blooms. I hesitated in grief for several days, then, finally made the cut. I watched each one fall to the ground. Like slow motion almost, I felt devastated over each one falling. It’s one thing to make cuts from a bunch for an arrangement or to snip a few when you have so many remaining. But, this was difficult, cutting back with no more blooms remaining. The plant now lacked its original glory. I instantly felt the sadness of having once held something so precious, now to see it without blooms.
So, I took my thoughts to God in prayer…
“God, I don’t get it. (*insert: frustrated daughter voice*) Why did this happen? I know you must have a lesson for me in the mix of this somehow? So, I’m going to need you to speak to me about this one because I’m not seeing why this is even a necessary process? I really don’t like it. Couldn’t you allow them to keep on blooming? Why do we have to cut them from the stem, why do we have to let them go?”
He didn’t answer. Though, in the Father’s silence, He was there.
I walked by my butchered plant for days, waiting to find out what would happen. Would they grow? Would they die? Would God answer my cry for understanding?
He allowed me to linger in the questioning. Slowly, my heart began to relax toward acceptance. No blooms. No pretty colors. No soft + strong heads on them. It was okay simply as it was. I began to love the new look of this plant poised on my back porch. In fact, new leaves were popping up each week. The greenery that had been hidden under the fully mature heads began to thrive. It took a few weeks, but the green leaves began to look even more vibrant.
I’ve written about this experience before, watching our grown son head out into success as a new Marine. The mix of joy and sadness is a confluence of emotion like none other. I’ve watched many of my friends experiencing their grown children leaving the nest, heading out into the world, and off to accomplish great things. In those moments, a mom’s heart doesn’t want to let go. The tears of frustration flow as we grab the cutting sheers, knowing it’s what’s best, pruning back our branches, releasing our children to their destiny. Knowing, it’s the common thing to do, but we don’t want to do it.
It was a few days after our son left for his new position, thousands of miles away, when the Lord answered my grieving heart. In all of his wisdom, the Master Gardner pointed the hydrangeas out to me in an unexpected moment one afternoon:
“See the hydrangeas?”
“Yes, Lord, I see them,” I responded.
“See how they are healthy and growing now?” He said.
“Yes, Lord! Wow! I didn’t really notice. They are green and coming back to life,” I recognized.
“The mature blooms had to be released, for the whole plant to grow full again,” He answered.
It took about a month for The Father to answer my plea for understanding. I think He knows we cannot fully hear him speak to us when we are in a state of frustration, like a child in the middle of their meltdown.
When we are able to release what was once held tightly, then we can hear Him speak.
Beyond the tears of releasing my son to his future success, the Lord showed me that there is something happening down deep in inside of me. There is something vibrant coming to life. And, it’s not over, as my mind once falsely believed. The plant that once supported those most exquisite blooms, had to release them at their peak.
Our Master Gardner knows when there is beauty waiting to rise.
He needed to teach me how to be okay releasing something precious, so the good growth underneath can move into its new season.
He needed to teach me to trust him with the process, with the cutting, and with His perfect plans.
He is with us, even in the pain, even in the silence.
He is continually guiding us into his marvelous Light.
He guides us out, even beyond the treasured things we once held tightly, the things we once nourished and found our identity in supporting, nurturing, raising. The plant that supported its blooms…the moms that supported our children. When the blooms meet their peak, he says it’s time to release them. And the magnificent thing is, when we release our children to their destiny, we find what remains is an unexpected life now poised for our next season of growth.
Show us all what our next season is, remind us that you are working, even beyond the season of blooming goodness. Remind us that the new shape of our life gives you as much glory with the blooming things as it does now beyond them. Show us what you have in store, and comfort our hearts in the process of the cutting away, as we release our precious ones back to you. Help us posture ourselves in trust for your ways. For we know they are much higher than ours!
We love you, Jesus.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9