He was late again. I’d have to add yet another tardy to his attendance record. Surely he wouldn’t miss the last day of school, would he? My answer came shortly after, when my little freckled-nosed Kindergartner rolled in at 8:24, along with his dad, both of whom were armed with vases of flowers. One for me. One for my aide. One for a principal. I let the others pick their flowers first, and ended up with the vase of four pink peonies, all still tightly bound in their buds. They looked a bit scrawny in the porcelain green vase, but as the first one, and then the second and third began to open up, I was reminded of the true size of a peony. I deeply breathed in the fragrant smell and was instantly transported back to thoughts of my childhood. Sweet memories of the white peony bush in our yard in Nebraska reminded me of late spring and running around the neighborhood barefoot.
I marveled at how large the flowers became after opening up. To begin as the size of a small Brussel sprout and blossom into a flower nearly the size of my hand was incredible. And, it was quite a fast process. I’d leave the house for a couple of hours and return to find a completely transformed blossom. So when the last flower stood alone in its vase after the others had wilted and been tossed, I had this desire to just sit and watch it open up. I mean, surely if I sat there, I’d see some movement, right? How amazing would that be? (A true indication it’s summer break when there’s nothing better to do than stare at a flower…) So I pulled up a chair and watched that little peony. And watched. And watched. And waited. “Do something!”, I impatiently screamed. I waited some more and observed how there were already a few layers of petals that had blossomed from that tight little bud just moments earlier. But I knew there were many more to come and I didn’t want to miss it.
You know that old adage, “A watched pot never boils”? Well, the addendum to that should be, “A watched flower doesn’t bloom.” It was hard to wait. And tedious. And really quite ridiculous to think I’d see anything. But I began to think about my impatience with my own life and wanting it to bloom into a marriage my heart has desired for a very long time. Truth be told, it’s been nearly two years of waiting to see what God is going to do with this relationship. And so many times, I seem to be sitting, watching, waiting….and nothing. Or seemingly so. But when I looked at the complexity of all those layers upon layers of petals, I began to realize that God has slowly, deliberately, and quite carefully been peeling the layers of our lives down as the future is unfolding. Perhaps it was the petals of preparing our children’s hearts, developing relationships, financial pieces, the healing of emotional wounds, learning to communicate, and the assurance that we are 100% committed to each other that was necessary to happen before anything else. Regardless of all that needs to come before the opening of this beautiful flower, I am trusting that God has it all worked out, according to His perfect timing.
So many of the people I know and love are waiting for something, just as I am. And perhaps you’re waiting, too. Maybe you’re waiting for healing, relationships, children, retirement, new jobs, or simply vacation. And to those of you in the wait, let me share something God put on my heart as I stared at that remaining peony:
There is still beauty found in an unopened flower.
It may seem as if the bud is still shut tightly, with no sign of blossom. It may have a layer or two peeled back, with no seeming indication that more petals will open. But that doesn’t mean the flower is stagnant in its growth. Or that growth will cease to happen from this point forward. Each petal unfolded is the handiwork of God, carefully thought out and timed, with you and me in mind. Celebrate each little piece of the bloom. Occasionally step back and marvel at what God has already done in your life. And trust that He will continue to work, regardless of how frustrated we get as we continue to watch and wait.
I was reminded of that very truth on the last day of school. That tardy little student of mine who brought the peonies? Every single day was a challenge for him. There were tears, struggles, challenges and frustrations. Most of the time he seemed tuned out as I talked or read a story. I often wondered what was going on in that sweet little head of his each day. But as I sat in the rocking chair, about to read the final story on the final day of school, he did something completely uncharacteristic. He jumped up from his spot on the carpet, ran over to me, threw his arms around me and whispered, “I’m gonna miss you.” I held him tightly for just a second as my eyes filled with tears and whispered back, “Me too, buddy.”
It took 172 days of school, but one small petal unfolded in that precious moment. And it was worth the wait.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. ~ Habakkuk 2:3