I grew up with the sense that cut flowers were to be special gifts of love, and that the absence of gifts of flowers is sad. I’ve been given picked flowers by lots of kids (and probably a couple of boys back in the day). To my recollection I have been given gifts of cut flowers by exactly three people: my mother, my father, and one client. Maybe the flowers I carried in my cousin’s wedding count. And myself. One year I sent myself flowers at work on my birthday.
A couple of months ago I rebelled. I bought a vase, and I decided I would keep flowers in that vase. So every couple of weeks I go to Safeway or Trader Joe’s (which has surprisingly inexpensive and lovely cut bouquets) and pick some up. I change the water, rinse the stems, and pull out the ugly stuff every few days. I keep them over my TV, so no matter how I’m feeling or how my house looks at least once a day I see them and feel good. It’s called self-care. It’s a good thing, and I’m grateful to live in a country and have the means to do this.
Today Pastor Abel preached a powerful sermon on ALLOWING ourselves to be recharged and renewed. He compared beautiful cut arrangements with less stunning potted plants: the most “appealing” dies and will not be renewed. The other has dirt, but with that comes roots and life.
As I put my new flowers in my vase today, carefully mixing the plant food with lukewarm water, trimming back leaves so they wouldn’t be below the water line, arranging them for optimum viewing pleasure, I had few thoughts:
1. I am preparing these flowers to entertain me by dying as slowly as possible. If they were human, this would be a crime against humanity.
2. This particular self-care technique is meant to make me feel better in the place where (because lately that’s just how exhausted I am) I do most of my recharging: right in front of the tv. How toxic!
3. I already know this, but there is precious little “rooted” recharging happening in my life right now. I’m in survival mode, doing what I can to make it successfully through the next week, day, even hour. It’s trimming the leaves, keeping the water fresh, making sure there’s plant food. It works just fine in the short term, but all too soon it will die. It comes on you gradually, until suddenly you realize that the charge just doesn’t hold anymore.
4. I think the easiest way to know you’re running on this short-term energy is that you can’t even think seriously about anything long-term anymore. It’s all about surviving NOW. It’s really tough on so many levels for a Christian who’s a therapist who prays and chews Scripture on most days to admit she’s in survival mode.
5. I remember what I told a client on Thursday: this is part of your journey. We all go through desperate dark deserts in our adventures where we are cold and wet and take whatever food and drink and shelter we can find, no matter how disease-ridden or dangerous. I know I’m right about that. The Bible promises it. I just don’t like being there. It’s exhausting.
6. I have no intention of taking my slowly dying flowers out of my living room. They do make me happy. But now they also ask me a question…. Do you REALLY have no energy except to look at me? Have you DONE something today to recharge? Am I REALLY the best you can do today? Sometimes the answer is yes. But I bet that most days it’s not.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~ Matthew 11:28-29