Just last week I saw this photograph of one lone flower — a weed, to be honest — growing all alone in a cracked and mossy street, nestled up against the curb.
There were no cars, no foot traffic, and no fellow flowers.
I saw myself in that flower and thought: I grow here.
I grow here, sometimes utterly alone, but here I grow.
For many years now, my husband and I have worked in the local church. We are surrounded by community, never neglecting to wake up with expectancy of what Sunday holds. We love being poured into from others’ overflow. I adore conferences and soak up the teaching of others like a parched mouth in the desert.
Yet, for the past eight months, I’ve been growing alone — just me and Jesus. Yes, I’ve missed women’s studies and it has been brutal to experience the widening fault line between my mentor and myself, but if I know God, this is just a season during the planting.
And if I continue to seek what He has for me, if I continue to seek the kingdom first, if I learn to pray small prayers for big things, and if I learn to love small ways every day, then all these things my heart desires will be given to me.
I won’t always grow alone.
Alone. It’s like a lit match in a dark room. It’s a single woman in her new house. It’s one small flower-weed nestled against the curb — not a melancholy tune, but an ordained opportunity to stand in the center of the throne-room and dance a dance of praise before our King.
Alone, before the One that matters, knowing the Creator beholds the beauty of His masterpiece within me — there is nothing isolated about that, nothing stolen or withheld. Instead, it is the chance for this wildflower to soak up grace as it falls like rain, and as my roots begin to deepen, trusting the soil in which they are planted I stand taller.
I grow stronger.
Before our relocation a couple years ago, I was steeped in community. Surrounded by friend and their families, my calendar was full of life-breathing events that fertilized my soul — whether it was a cup of coffee with a girlfriend as we gushed about God working in our lives, or a 4th of July waffle breakfast where I watched with wonder at what it looked like to open one’s home with joy — I was never alone and always learning. I could see the woman I desired to become in the faces of the women around me. Little by little Jesus would point things out and say, “Look here, at my sister Amber, isn’t her child-like wonder and all-encompassing heart something to behold?”
“Yes,” I would answer. Watching as Amber sparkled, and the Jesus who dwelled inside her inspired me to seek Him more.
Our move was like a hard-stop on my entire life. My new role in the church, unfamiliar to me, was like a straight-jacket on this girl who once ran across wheat fields, skirts flying.
My calendar was void, except for children.
My coffee dates in two years I can count on both hands.
Our circle of friends here is small in numbers, large in heart, but spread out across the miles so that it makes it difficult to see each other during the week.
About six months into our new lives, I began bucking my strait-jacket like a colt at his first rodeo. I pushed to maintain the social calendar I once had only to find that I physically couldn’t do it. I was exhausted. I rushed to take on new roles of leadership, I fought to get my foot in the door, and I cried with friends I’d left behind, my sobs stealing oxygen from the spiritual flame burning inside.
Almost a year ago, I bucked myself right into a brick wall. Skin-kneed, sore-hips, wild-eyed, I stood before God and asked, “What next? What do you want from me?”
The answer was the same for me as it would be for anyone else, “All of you, child. I want all of you.”
And slowly, the separation from all I clutched so tightly didn’t seem like a very big price to pay if it meant I could have more Jesus. I pursued Him with wild abandon. Each opportunity offered to grow, I jumped on it. There was a conference I volunteered at, traveling down to meet a group of women there. Most of the weekend I spent alone, vacillating from the front row of the conference to the workshops and back to the front row again. The ladies I was with were so wonderful, but God had called me there for one-on-one time and I guarded it with ferocity.
I grew there. It was hard, but I grew.
Coming home, I reconnected with my first love again, and in those times alone, God has granted me the freedom to ask the hardest of questions of Him and He has not been silent. He has answered each one, revealing shards of truth and text to me in such a way that when the Son now shines I see a mosaic of knowledge reflect beneath the rays.
I grow here. Alone. But not really.
There are times when we are meant the be planted in a field of rows and columns — times when we grow among the crops, holding one another up, admiring each others’ beauty, protecting each other from pests.
And then there are times when we are placed in a pot all by ourselves on the Farmer’s front porch, just so He can have something beautiful to look at and talk with while He drinks His morning coffee.
I’m going to miss these days of being in the pot on the porch. I know it’s a season. I know that He’ll ask me to go back out into the field soon. But for now …
I grow here. Alone, with Him. And the growing pains have brought me joy.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Arlene Pellicane, co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife
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