spiritual growth

Chasing Dandelions

The premise is lovely: Katie, a young woman, tired of the disturbing images she sees rampant on Facebook,  has posted a picture of a flower with the caption,

“My intention is to fill up Facebook with flowers to break the saturation of negative images and videos. If you like this post I will give you a flower to post on your timeline.” -Katie K.

copied from post on Facebook

copied from post on Facebookcopied from a post on FacebookI didn’t seen Katie’s original post, but I saw the posts of two mutual friends who had responded to Katie’s Update, and had posted pictures of their assigned flowers. Colin posted a Lotus with the caption, “a Lotus for Katie”, and Darrell posted a shrub of blossoming Mandevilla, with a caption explaining the significance this particular flower had in his own life and the memories it invoked of his dear friend who had passed away two years ago.

It was lovely, so I decided to play along. I went to Katie’s profile and I “liked” her status. And then I waited.

My waiting was not a picture of me maneuvering through the day filled with strength and productivity. While I waited, I slid further under the covers of my bed and hid from the world. I slid deeper into the despair that has been more consuming than I would like to admit. My heart has been heavy despite the truths I know about God and His promises.  I have been questioning my value and my significance in this ever changing world.

It was only a few moments until my phone alerted me to a notification from Katie. She had assigned me a flower. As I opened the app I wondered what beautiful flower she chose for me. Perhaps it was a Desert Rose. Maybe she had chosen a flowering vine, one that wanders along a wall and dangles it’s blossoms.

Jackie Sill, The flower I choose for you is a Dandelion.

A Dandelion? A weed?

Not only had I been assigned a weed, but I had been assigned the most hated weed in the world. If you ask Google how to remove dandelions from your life you will get 137,000 websites in 0.32 seconds.

I looked at images of the flowering weed, but I didn’t post a picture right away. I was certain there was some blog-ability to this moment. Surely, if I allowed this dandelion moment to evolve, God would give me something meaningful to share. He would open my eyes to the beauty of the dandelion, and allow me to use this moment to glorify Him. I rose from my place of hiding and decided to go clear some real weeds and rocks in my backyard and build a vegetable garden. Surely God would give me something significant to say, if I allowed Him the opportunity to speak.

And so I waited. And I worked. And thoughts grew. Like weeds.

 Dandilions in Meadow
The truth about a weed is all in the perspective. After all, everything in life is about perspective, right? 
  • When we are in the midst of a trial we can become overwhelmed by our emotions.
  • We can crawl under our covers and stop making contact with the world.
  • We can throw stones at the ones who try to be involved in our lives if we see any evidence of their failures.
  • We can stop giving what we have for fear of how much we might get hurt or how much more we might lose.
OR…
  • When we face trials we can look at them as opportunities for our faith to be refined.
  • We can lean into the trial we face and hope that by doing so we will be more equipped to face whatever is next.
  • We can abandon the idea of whatever coming next overtaking us.
  • We can cling to every previous trial as evidence to the victory we already have against upcoming trials.

The beauty of the weed is in the eye of the beholder. After all, the people who matter are the people who matter, right?

 Same drop, Different AngleThe beauty in our lives is derived from the engagement we foster with the people who matter. We pull them in or we push them away. We can live in the same household with someone and yet keep them far away, making it impossible for them to scale the walls and know us–all the while we can be living with a feeling of isolation and emptiness.

Adultery is a horrible thing. I know it. I will own it. But, even without the act of sexual relations with another man, a wife can push her husband so far away that he can feel a sense of isolation in his own home. He can go through the motions of a family man, all the while wondering if his wife even loves him. He can feel despised by her distance, and a sense of shame for what he perceives as a lack of respect. Engagement and connection is key. It’s the key that can save marriages before there is a crisis.

For some people maintaining their focus on the people that matter is easy. For others, it’s not so easy. When there is brokenness in a life, it will continue to function in ways that are…well…broken. There are some people who will constantly battle to listen to the people who matter and turn off the voices of the people who don’t matter. Focusing our thoughts and our beliefs on the opinions of random people who don’t matter is a sure fire recipe for a dissatisfying life–and while someone may KNOW this, there is still a temptation to chase after an unattainable approval. Somehow, the broken have to deal with the areas of dysfunction so that they can fully accept the people who matter and distance themselves from the voices that lie.

The purpose of the weed may be more significant than we can see in this present season.  After all, significance is ever changing, right?

This is the part of the blog where I explain the amazing ways the dandelion can be used. For both food and medicinal purposes, this weed actually tops the list. Did you know that this flowering weed is not even indigenous to this continent? It’s actually derived from either Europe or the Mediterranean (sources disagree). Now if you have an imagination like myself, you picture the delicate, little parachutes wafting their way across the Atlantic and landing in a lawn in uptown New York. Thus continuing it’s million mile journey across the nation–and landing in your yard.

dandilionThat’s not what happened.

The real reason you have dandelion’s polluting your lawn is that there was a season where this plant was considered valuable. According to GeorgiaWildlife.com, it was man who moved the little plant on it’s worldwide migration.

“With our help, the dandelion made its way to the British Isles, north to Scandinavia and east to the Orient. Vikings carried it in their longboats to Greenland. Puritans brought it along with them to the New World and planted it in their herb gardens. French, Dutch and German colonists did likewise. When the first settlers moved westward they, too, transported the plant with them all the way to the Pacific Coast.” -Terry W. Johnson, In Defense of Dandelions

This weed that we spend millions of dollars each year to eliminate, was once sought after and treasured. Our forefathers realized that it could be used not only for food and medicine–these fine men figured out that they could actually use the plant to make wine and beer. During the confederate war, the soldiers would use the dandelion as a way to make coffee. Dandelion Spiced Latte, anyone?

dandelion coffee

Yes, there were many ways to look at this weed, but they all seemed contrived and obvious. While there was truth in each thought, it was only skimming the surface of the truth that was deep inside this woman’s hurting soul. Inside of me there is a fear. In the same way this flower has seen its finest days, and is no longer necessary: there is the fear that I hold the same fate as the dandelion.

  • There is a temptation to have a negative perspective about my situation.
  • There is a temptation to listen to those that don’t matter, and to not hear the One who matters.
  • There is a temptation to believe that I am past the days of having significance.

Discovering the significance of a weed is not going to change any lives. Spending my time reading about the history of a plant could be considered by some as a waste of time and energy. Writing a blog that a few hundred people may read is not going to change the world. Heaven knows, there are as many people writing blogs as there are unwanted dandelions.

And of self thought? How much time is wasted in looking inward? What is the purpose of a life observed? When I spend time investing in self discovery it is not significant to anyone–except to the One who matters.

My perspective shifts to the One who matters, because the One who matters is all that matters. This shift in perspective gives me a renewed view of myself  which shifts my attention back to the ones who matter.

To remain fully engaged with the ones who matter gives an unshakable purpose to each day. Looking for my significance in any other place would be like chasing dandelions, right?

Giant Puffball Dandilion

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