The first week after we moved down to Missouri, we bought food, we bought the necessities for our apartment, and we bought plants. A few bunches of periwinkle to plant next to our new place. It was a splurge, but I managed to convince Michael of their importance with this, “I can’t start to feel at home somewhere new, until we get some plants.” We followed those up with some herbs, and random plants that we found in the “half dead” sale rack at Home Depot.
When we moved back to Wisconsin, one of the first places we stopped at was a garden center. I didn’t even need to ask this time. Michael got me a little, green houseplant since it was the dead of winter. We put it next to our wandering Jew plant, and for that first month, when I spent almost every day wondering what in the world we were doing, those plants were a comfort to me.
Sounds weird, right? What’s the big deal with flowers?
I think, for me, my plants have become a visual lesson. A reminder to settle in where I am. Growing up as a missionary kid, and then pursuing missions as an adult, there has always been the reality of “don’t get too comfortable”. After you move in, and move out enough times, there’s a tendency to want to hold back a little, because you know that now is not permanent. Settle in to a place, pour in to people and relationships if you want, but goodbyes are coming. So, to protect yourself from the inevitable hurt that comes with the pulling out of roots, you refuse to put any in.
But that’s no good either. After the many, many changes and goodbyes that I have experienced, I’m convinced that I would have rather had those experiences and known those people, then not have to part with them.
I share this because I was sitting in our backyard yesterday. The sight of that backyard, five months ago, made me feel alone and displaced. Yesterday, I noticed the birds on the bird feeder. I noticed our hammock, and the kids toys scattered around from when they had forgotten to clean them up. I noticed my flowers, peeking out of planters and inching toward the trellis.
A sneaky, negative and entirely discouraging thought broke into my peace. You’re going to leave it all soon.
It’s true. We’ll be uprooting again. We’ll say goodbye to our house, family, friends, churches, flowers and all, and start over again in a new place. It won’t be easy, but it will be good. It will be worth uprooting, to dig in at our new home. Because the God who is Creator of flowers and people alike is going with us, and He will give us flowers and people and places to love there, just like He did here.