Flowers make me happy. Seeing them, smelling them and touching them excite my insides and make me smile. This has been the case since I was a little girl. Most neighbors on my block didn’t have flowers in garden beds or pots, but more than a few had lilac bushes, and we had one in our own backyard. I would pick and sniff the bouquets throughout the day between bouts of picking the petals in the little girl quiz of “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” to determine if my crush indeed loved me too.
The lilac bush was the ONLY pretty thing in nature around our house because it was there when my parents bought the house. My mother was not domestic at all: Cleaning; cooking; nor crafting was her thing, and there was no reason for her to test external home skills by trying to plant some flowers. Though I cook and can clean well based on what she taught me, my interest in cultivating plants didn’t come from her. I learned from my grandmothers. My mom and dad’s mom both planted petunias and watered them daily, and the flowers grew large and pungent scents. After my husband, Flynn, and I bought our house, I wanted the beauty of flowers and feeling they bring, so Granny, Flynn’s grandmother, created flower beds complete with pavers, bought and planted flowers, and demonstrated and explained to me everything she did. I remember what she taught me, including the need to water plants daily in 80 plus degree weather. Though I learned well, I have not applied well these lessons this year.
This year I have two flower pots with mismatched flowers (I got one set from my neighbor) when I usually have five well-crafted flower pots and beds. And the flowers are only surviving from the rains we have every few days. The plants are yet holding on, but they could be thriving if I took a few minutes to water and fertilize them. A few minutes a day to water and another few minutes every few weeks to fertilize them would sustain their lives where their beauty and scents would always be prevalent. To get them to where they need to be doesn’t take much. But the question is, “Do I really like the look and smell of flowers as much as I say I do?” If I like the look and smell, why won’t I do what’s necessary to cultivate the look and smell for my benefit and the benefit of my neighbors?” Of course we can ask ourselves the same thing when we aren’t doing something to nourish what we claim to love.
Why won’t we make that green smoothie to develop the body we love? Why won’t we make that call to show that friend we care? Why won’t we study the Bible to grow in our knowledge of God? Why won’t we pray to grow in our intimacy with God? You know I could go on with all the questions to inquire about why we haven’t watered our various gardens, but I need you to ask yourself your own questions. You need to know what is keeping you from the few minutes daily and more intense times periodically to water your gardens. It is disingenuous to say we love something but don’t show that we love something. We know love when we see love, and we know that love is happening because some action is happening. We know when someone has taken the time to nurture something. Let’s strive to be that person who, when people see us, they know we have well-watered gardens. They know we have taken time to care for our bodies; they know we have taken time to invest in relationships; they know we have taken time to strengthen our spirits; they know that we often encounter God.
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:2 NLT).
Just as Jesus died because He loved us and His bodily sacrifice was “a pleasing aroma to God,” let us love ourselves and others so radically that we, like my well-cultivated flowers are to me, are a wonderful smell for God and the watching world.