I took a walk around the neighborhood last week. As I walked, I found myself eyeballing the beautiful hydrangeas exploding with colorful blossoms ranging from pinks to purples and some scattered with blue.
Hydrangeas are among my favorite flowers. I take great pride (not always a good thing) in the work in my garden and flower beds that I have planted over the years throughout my yard.
I found myself getting mad because my Hydrangeas were not producing any blooms, while others exploded with many blossoms.
I realize this is not exactly something that should cause me to be mad.
But if I am honest, I was mad. I was upset more with myself because I failed to remember to prune the bushes during our fall clean up.
Life got in the way, and I never made time for it. I take a lot of time researching and caring for my gardens and flower beds.
This past fall, I did not.
When I came home, I looked at my flower-less hydrangeas out front again, and I felt defeated.
I was already feeling frustrated over some challenges my organic vegetable garden has been giving me. Feeling like I wanted to give up.
“Next year, I am NOT going to put in a garden. It’s so much for work for little reward.” I uttered to myself.
But isn’t that life?
Sometimes it feels like a thankless job to put in so much work and get pushback in the form of weeds, a beetle fungus, or overgrown volunteer plants that are interfering wth yielding successful fruit.
Again, isn’t that life?
Yesterday as the storm rolled in and the skies grew dark, I stepped outside to listen to the rain and thunder. I love the sound of thunder and heavy rain hitting the hot concrete and watching it bounce off leaves like kids on a trampoline.
As I scanned the front yard watching the sheets of rain fill the streets, a brilliant blue color captured my attention amidst the grey mood.
Several blooms and a few others that were beginning to unfurl greeted me as I moved closer between raindrops to the hydrangea bush. I was so happy to see the color peeking out.
My Facebook memories remind me of the same bush with a profusion of pink and purple colored blooms from this time last year. This is the caption I wrote:
“Even a hydrangea that comes from the same root, one that grows in the soil, can turn out to be a uniquely beautiful version unlike any of the others.
Embrace who you are made to be with your own gifts and beauty. May we see our people the very same way. May we be intentional in how we see and love each of the uniquely beautiful blossoms (and people) that come from the same root and encourage them to embrace their own beauty and gifts. Our bouquets and lives will be all the more glorious.”
While the quantity of the blooms was more abundant last year, the gift this year was the uniquely beautiful, original blue color returned to this bush.
The message remains the same: Embrace who you are.
I planted the small quart size plants with big blue blooms 10 years ago. I planted them as a symbol to honor my son’s First Holy Communion. The second year, there were no blooms. On the third year, the blue came abounding back. It never returned until now.
The acidity of soil affects the color of hydrangeas.
Just like us.
The soil, the seasons, weeds, storms, and sunshine all affect the colorful blooms and the life we live.
Here’s a fun fact. Blue hydrangeas are a symbol of apology. Shades of pinks are heartfelt emotions. Purple is the desire to deeply understand. White is symbolic of bragging and boasting (I don’t have any white, just limelight green)
Those colors have been pretty consistent with events in my life.
Last year, I saw an overgrowth and overabundance of pink and purple hydrangeas. It is pretty symbolic if you ask me since I was processing many heartfelt emotions and working through the desire to deeply understand things that were not clear.
Here’s the irony. The blue hydrangeas have shown their beautiful blossoms again this year for the first time in what feels like forever. Guess what? Remember when I said I planted the hydrangea and they were blue just this week? Well, It returned to itself, just as God intended it to be.
Just like the blue hydrangea, I want to honor who God has called me to be. I want to be unapologetic (blue hydrangea and apology). I want to fearlessly, unapologetically, and lovingly carry out my vocation.
This hydrangea bush desired to be “all the things.” Last year, the hydrangeas showed me that it was okay to let my kids be who they wanted to be. Those hydrangeas showed me all the colors of hydrangea life, despite coming from the same root and eventually blossoming into beautiful versions of themselves.
This year, the blue hydrangeas shows me that it’s time to be unapologetic in who I am and who I am meant to be.
It’s time to honor the things God has called us to do.
As I have said, I am someone known as a peacemaker. At times, this can turn into people-pleasing in a not-so-good way. Being a peacemaker is a gift when appropriately managed.
And when not, pleasing others can result in quieting my authentic God-given voice.
It’s true, I enjoy lifting the voices of others, but sometimes it can be at the cost of my own. God wouldn’t want it this way. Like many other creatives in the world, I question my worth and creativity. I’m reading about G.K. Chesterton and his observations on imagination, creativity, culture, and faith. Maybe I’ll share more on that sometime soon.
For now, I still have to be reminded that our gifts are not meant to be hidden nor tucked away and that my voice matters too.
Our gifts are meant to be shared like the beauty of the Blue Hydrangea.
As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace1 Peter 4:10
I share this Sacred Scripture with you to remind you that we each have received a gift from God not to be kept for ourselves or our glory, but to bring others to Him.
When peacemaking becomes a vice and turns to people-pleasing, we get stuck in the mire of trying to do things that actually challenge our own truth, beauty, and goodness.
I can be unapologetic about many things when I am convicted by prayer to listen and follow.
I try to run my life through the filter of discernment and prayer, and I do not always get it right. Let me repeat that, I do not always get it right.
It has become clear when I am trying to hear God’s will for my life, an unexplained peace, and when doors fling open (or it cracks ever so slightly), I am more confident God must be leading the way.
He does lay a path that invites us to follow.
He leads, he does not push.
He does not cause more fear, he sets an example of peace.
He does not cause confusion.
He does not cause shame.
He whispers and gently reminds, “You were made for this. You are not alone. I am with you.”
He gives us courage.
He offers us hope
He lights the way.
Our most imaginative Creator offers us a blooming blue hydrangea to remind us who he designed us to be matters.
He wants us to be unapologetic as we honor and embrace the gifts we have been given.
He calls us to be generous with those gifts whether it be blue, pink, or purple hydrangeas and even though we may be tangled with weeds, pesky lantern bugs, beetles, and tempermental acidic soil.
Friend, I encourage you to unapologetically embrace the truth, beauty, and goodness of who you are meant to be. We need your brilliant blue hydrangea.