I started running around the neighborhood to train for my marathon back in November. Over the months I watched Christmas lights get strung up on homes and trees. I noticed as the neighbors dutifully took them down come January, though I still see some hanging lifeless and dull. I smelled the delicious scent of burning wood in the evenings and the welcoming aroma of spicy fish stew one morning. When spring came out to say hello, happy-colored flowers cheered me along in the day and the heavy perfume of orange blossoms filled my lungs at night.
On one of my last training runs, I noticed what looked like pink buttercups soaking in the midday sun. A whole bouquet of them were bursting into bloom between the curb and the sidewalk- a seemingly impossible place for life to be happening. Yet somehow a seed had found its way into the earth below. Somehow it had received what it had needed to survive and grow. Somehow a little bud had pushed through the hard earth above it and claimed a spot in an unlikely place.
They stopped me. They beckoned me over with their confident stance to tell me they were once where I am now.
I’m a seed, buried deep underground. My job is to sit and soak, to surrender and to learn to die to myself. New life will come out of me eventually, but for now it’s not time. It’s dark and often lonely, and I have no idea when things will move forward or if I’m doing enough of what I should be doing. And what exactly is it that I’m supposed to be doing? I’m without a path to follow. I wish I could muster up all my strength to break out and grow already, but bloom and beauty don’t come through rushing. It takes abiding and staying put— two things I’m terrible at.
I’m uncomfortable in this season. I squirm and tantrum because I can’t be all that I used to be. I used to be on staff at our old church. I used to lead others from the stage. I used to have meetings to attend and events to plan. I used to be productive in a visibly fruitful way. In those used-to days, I felt more in control, more needed, more important.
It’s a facade that those days held more weight in God’s kingdom and my life. The lie is that being at home all day with the kids and not burning myself out in service for others is less glorifying and meaningful. But what seems clear on paper becomes fuzzy to my nearsighted heart and mind.
I question God’s process and pout about His gracious, upside-down attitude toward time well spent. I fret over losing my place in the crowd where everyone else seems to be rushing ahead, making a difference and changing lives. I fear I’ll become like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, rusty and stiff, forgotten in the middle of the forest. I’m afraid if I stay still for too long I’ll lose my abilities, my gifts from lack of use. Most of all, in the sacred, hushed part of my heart, I’m just afraid I’ll lose myself.
Maybe that’s the point. A seed holds all of what it will become in its tiny form, but only through burial and death does it fully become what it was created to be. That’s what those sweet buttercups were saying to me. They stayed lodged in the dirt with concrete placed on top of them. After soaking in what was needed, after the right amount of time spent in the covering of the seed, they were rebirthed into something new, something pleasant, something truth-telling. So it will be with myself. I’ll become more fully who I’m intended to be after a season of nourishment underground. It will be through surrender and death to self that I’ll be remade closer to the likeness of Christ.
I snapped a picture of those pale pink glories and continued on with my run. In a neighborhood full of bright daisies, hydrangeas, and roses, they stood unassuming, but they were the perfect reminder of purpose and hope for this season where I’m not where they are but one day will be.