A little over a year ago, the Lord taught me a lesson through my lovely orchid plant - that failed to bloom. This same orchid continues to teach me. Or rather, the Lord continues to teach me through this same orchid…
Mid-May, I received a text message from a sweet friend that I had given an orchid to a couple summers ago. And although she confesses to not possess a “green thumb,” her orchid would say otherwise…
The picture she sent me of her orchid was gorgeous. It had 10 vivid, fuchsia flowers in full bloom - with another five on deck. It possessed sturdy, green leaves and a stalk that bowed under the weight of its foliage - much too heavy for one stake to handle alone.
I had a moment of nonsense thoughts - you know, the immature whine of “Why can’t I…? and “When will mine…?” - run through my head. And then I recalled that once around that mountain was quite enough and I wasn’t about to be circling it again…
I chose to genuinely rejoice with her - as the Bible instructs:
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Her orchid was gorgeous and I knew that it brought her a lot of joy - as it continues to bloom more and more for her each year.
And so, with orchids back on my radar, I turned my attention to mine. And…well, mine wasn’t looking so hot! It had been a busy season - full of travels and remodel - and my weekly 1/4 c. waterings had been sporadic at best. When I pulled the drip tray up from the terra cotta container, I noticed that the majority of the once plump, green roots had turned to a sad, wilted brown.
Apparently, I was doing something wrong, and it needed to be addressed!
I resolved that it needed more - more of my attention and more TLC. I spent a little time with it that day by gently wiping the sheetrock dust off its green leaves. I also gave it a fertilizer bath and even moved it from our bedroom dresser to the windowsill in order to give it more natural light.
While I was setting the pot in place on the windowsill, I noticed something…it was tiny, but it was there! My orchid was growing a brand new leaf!
I was thrilled.
I texted my sweet friend back to say that my orchid wasn’t blooming yet, but it was growing! I told her that I had a new leaf - the size of my pinky nail - and albeit small, it was growth nonetheless!
Still perplexed about the root problem, I decided to ask my “orchid people” what I could be doing differently to enable it to bloom. I also got online and read up on some articles about orchid care: light, water, roots, leaves, stalks, and flowers.
And “according to my research” (thank you Magic School Bus), I discovered that my orchid was a year over-due of being cut back and repotted.
Here I was wanting growth, and my answer was that I was needing to prune!
I Googled away to find the appropriate way of taking on such an intimidating task…
(And in case you were wondering…) I first soaked the plant in water for a few hours and then gently pulled the orchid out of the pot to remove the bark that was tangled around the roots. This revealed what was alive - and what was dead. After that, I took my sterilized pruning shears to the brown, shriveled parts of the roots. I got the next-sized pot ready (1”-2” wider) and put the new special potting mix in. I returned the plant to its previous height and then added the mix - ensuring it filled in around the freshly-pruned roots. Lastly, I gave my orchid a generous 10-cup drink of water - allowing the water to drain.
I had a “Ta-daa!” moment when I successfully completed all the steps in the pruning and repotting process. I re-wiped the leaves and smiled. It was beautiful!
And in those 30-minutes, the Lord taught me a couple more lessons…
The first one being:
Growth is painful.
They are called “Growing Pains” for good reason - because growth is oftentimes painful!
The truth is, we all want growth. We all want to have the flowers in “full bloom - with another five on deck.” But not all of us are willing to inspect our roots - and see what is rotting or rotten. Not all of us are brave enough to cut out the things that will kill us if we let them.
Yes, not all of us are wanting that type of pain.
But if we want to grow - as women, wives, and mothers - then we must be willing to undergo the painful pruning shears. Because if we allow the hidden sin in our lives to remain intact - like pride, lust, envy, or unforgiveness - it will act like gangrene in our souls that will rot us from the inside-out. But when we are willing to let our “roots” (our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and intentions) be exposed to the air and light - there the Master Gardener can prune away everything that doesn’t promote life.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
And in my young, 35-years of life, I’ve observed that…
When pain is optional, growth is optional. But when pain is required, growth is required.
Time will tell if I did it right, but I’m thrilled either way because I’ve also learned that:
Growth is beautiful.
When you stop and think about it, there’s a profound beauty found in the roots…and in the leaves…and in the behind-the-scene parts of a flower's grand debut. Yes, there’s a beauty that comes before we get to experience the gorgeous display of a vivid-fuscia flower.
At every stage, there are opportunities to admire, appreciate, and acknowledge growth - beautiful growth.
And whether or not my orchid ever blooms or not, I have a deep respect for it for the lessons the Lord has taught me through it.
And just like if I stay committed to giving my orchid the proper water, light, and root-care - it will grow; if I stay committed to grow (by allowing room for painful, beautiful growth) the Bible promises us that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
So allow yourselves to be pruned, and await your own flowers in “full bloom - with another five on deck.” And as you anticipate the growth of your beautiful new leaf, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.