(the seldom-spoken truth about worry)
There are some memories too vanilla for a video, too ordinary for a photo, and yet too magical for both. These memories have a curious way of burrowing in my subconscious and waiting for an equally ordinary moment to resurface.
2:15 PM, a random Tuesday in April: a jumbled mess of white and purple colored my lap. I’d decided that the hill of wildflowers outside my philosophy class could use some thinning. Sticky green juice dyed my fingers as I twisted a wreath of the flowers – then I remembered.
2:15 PM, a random Tuesday many years earlier: Wonder wider than his 3-year-old eyes lit my little brother’s face. “Here, three marigold seeds for you,” I placed them in his hand, then leaned in pretending it was a secret, “If you put them in the ground, they’ll make a whole flower!”
The magic in the air grew thicker, just heady enough to make me grab the whole sack of seeds I’d saved that fall, tumble down the steps to the yard, and lavish them all with one twirl into the wet April ground.
What made those seeds so enchanting? It’s the flowers we clip, press, and photograph for their beauty, but there’s something matchless about the mystery inside their dry, black beginnings.
Entire blueprints for beauty rest inside these tiny seeds, blueprints more intricate than any of our human powers could imagine or create.
As soon as they soften and sprout, seeds make the “work” of their flowers almost laughable – the flowers don’t decide how to look or grow; they simply let what began them do the work to complete them.
Flowers don’t decide how to look or grow; they simply let the seeds that began them do the work to complete them.
I wonder why we don’t do the same. Like flowers, we offer the landscape of this world a spattering of tiny glories – vibrance, humor, tenacity… but we tend to forget a key component of our design: dependency.
Often we are so convinced of our “independence” that we forget how truly dependent we are. Think about it: We’re confident of our future until a phone call wrecks our plans. We’re sure of our social acceptance until someone we love rejects us. We’re models of health until we’re leaving our house in the back of an ambulance. We’re “in control,” until we’re not.
The danger of our false “independence” is that it makes prime breeding ground for worry.
Just as dependence (on seeds, on sun, on soil, on water…) is fundamental to flowers, it is central to human beings.
On Jesus, his strength, his promises, his people – No striving or pretending can move us one inch without relying on these. What striving and pretending can do, though, is burden us with worry. When we wear a veneer of independence, we wear responsibilities we never can, and never were meant to carry.
There’s a flattened daisy that’s been aging for a while in my Bible. It has made its home between Matthew 6 and 7, with its chosen welcome mat this line: See how the flowers grow. They neither labor nor spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these.
I can hear it now:
“Look how I made the flowers, Claire. They don’t work overtime, plan compulsively, ask ‘what if’s,’ hold back, or stock up. But believe me, not even the cream of humanity was ever provided for like one of these. If this is how I care for the flowers, how can you doubt I’ll care for you?”
Derailing my pride, Jesus says it simply: Depend on me, and I will provide. But play independent, and you will worry.
This kind of dependence is decidedly counter-cultural. We live in the “me” era of self-help, self-love, and self-promotion.
But what if we decided, you and I, to put our stock into the design of dependence? Depend on Jesus’ guidance, not our own. His love, not our own. His character, not our own.
So yes, my soul, yes: