A LOTUS FLOWER
I had an extremely difficult week last week. I’m a fighter, and I shoulder a lot. I don’t talk about it. I don’t complain. I don’t cry. I don't ask others to help. To look at me, you would not be able to tell the multiple things going on at once. I don’t wear my stress. I’ve learned that it doesn’t help. The best thing to do is to keep going. So I just push through.
But Sunday……I HIT A WALL.
The dam holding up all the tears broke. And I cried. I allowed myself to feel all of the emotion associated with everything that I’d been pushing through. I gave in fully and completely.
I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, Pastor, and visionary. The list goes on. There is NO day that I wake up and am not faced with a list of responsibilities and needs for each role that I fill. It's a lot. And there was something either going wrong, or that required my attention with every role that I occupied, all while being under the weather, which is an added layer of discomfort that magnifies the difficulty of challenges you’re facing.
So I allowed myself to cry. I allowed myself to be completely disappointed, sad, tired, weary, regretful, angry, frustrated, and all the in between, right there in the presence of God. I told him EXACTLY how I felt. I poured out tears from my gut. I emptied my soul in full confidence that God was listening. There was no overwhelming presence that showed up. There was no tangible glory. But there was an attentiveness inside of me. I felt His spirit standing at full attention. I knew that I had an audience. There is a place in God that is cultivated through prayer where we know fully and completely that He is listening, whether we are speaking or not. We are aware of His knowing.
I felt Him listening. He did not interject. He did not say anything. He simply listened. And when I was done, still feeling somewhat unsure of how everything would be resolved, I got up to wipe my eyes and keep going.
I didn’t lay there waiting on answers or explanations. That was not my expectation. I really just needed to vent. I wanted to lift the weight off to give myself enough room to keep pushing without so much weight resting on my heart. And after a boatload of tearful confessions, I felt that I’d accomplished just that. It gave me the strength to get up and keep pushing. I wasn't laying around waiting for encouragement or answers. I already knew that He was with me. I already knew he’d never leave. I knew that He would give me strength. I knew all of that. I didn’t need to hear it again. I felt like I already had my answer.
SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.
I’ve learned that there are just some things that God provides strength to endure and persevere through. He’s not always going to “FIX” the things we’re complaining about. He’s helping us to endure until they are fixed. And I knew that everything I’d just complained about were things that He’d give me strength to endure. So I got up off my knees, content to wait on the strength necessary to keep going.
As I stepped into my bathroom to grab the box of tissue, I heard him speak very clearly:
“A LOTUS FLOWER”
I stopped in my tracks and stood still. As I acknowledged his words to me, I knew that He was telling me that I was like the LOTUS FLOWER. My memory was jogged, immediately taking me back to one other moment in time where God spoke this to me.
I like flowers. They are beautiful of course. But I’m no flower person. I don’t garden. I don’t buy them often. I’m not well-versed on flowers. Of course I can spot a rose, a tulip, a chrysanthemum, a dandelion….you know…..the OBVIOUS flowers. But I’m not the girl to know much about what it takes to plant, grow, and maintain them. It’s not my thing. I’d sooner buy them printed on a dress than in person.
But in 2002, I purchased a 3D flower that was dried and encased in a frame from a home décor store. I didn’t know much about the flower, only that it was beautiful and white, and fit the décor of my room. I thought that it was cool the way that it had been preserved inside of this boxed frame. It sat on the wall in my bedroom for two years, not thought of much, having blended in to the everyday look of the room.
Then one day, a day somewhat like Sunday where I was balling my eyes out to God, he told me to take the flower off the wall. It felt very strange. I didn’t know if I was hearing him correctly. But he’d spoken so loud in my spirit, that I instinctively got up to obey. I climbed on my bed and pulled the flower down off the wall. On the back of the frame hung a tag that I somehow had never noticed when I purchased or hung the frame. I flipped the tag over, and it stated that the flower was a Lotus Flower. The tag gave a brief 3 sentence summary of the attributes of the flower. Of all of the attributes of the flower, I specifically remember it stating that this flower grows fastest, and strongest during rainy seasons. In that moment I knew exactly what God was saying to me.
So here were were 20 years later, in a very similar moment of a ‘WHY ME GOD?’ prayer session, that God’s answer to me was to remind me again that I am a Lotus Flower. With 20 years of added technology in our world, there is now something called Google. I was no longer limited to a tag with three sentences. So I Googled the Lotus Flower, and here is what I found:
· “The meanings behind the flower relate to the symbolism of the lotus growing out of muddy waters. The flowers’ roots anchor it in the mud, but the flower rises above its murky environment, blossoming open one petal at a time. Based on these unique growing conditions, the lotus flower has come to have many symbolic meanings. The lotus represents spiritual enlightenment. Regardless of its dirty environment and the muddy water it’s rooted in, the lotus rises above it all to bloom in beauty, facing the sun. This is symbolic of overcoming the material world and emerging from the muddy waters of suffering to reach spiritual enlightenment and wisdom.
· The flower symbolizes detachment as the lotus detaches itself from the water and filth that sullies its environment. This symbolism serves as a reminder to separate ourselves from things that could sully our soul and to instead focus on the things that matter, such as wisdom, relationships and spiritual enlightenment.
· Lotuses also symbolize resurrections and new beginnings. The flower emerges in the morning, only to close up at night and disappear into back into the water. In the morning, a new blossom remerges and continues the cycle. This representation makes the lotus a common flower at funerals. This is also why the flower was popular in Egyptian symbolism.
· The lotus represents purity and cleanliness, as it’s able to emerge from the murky waters pure and unsullied. In particular, the flower represents the purity of the human soul, as the center of the flower is never tainted by its journey, nor is it by the daily exposure to the murky water.
· The lotus flower blooms slowly one petal at a time, which is similar to the gradual steps required to reach spiritual enlightenment. In this sense, the lotus is a symbol of personal progress. Regardless of the color of the petals, the middle is typically yellow, which represents the goal of enlightenment.
· The lotus has also been associated with nature and womanhood. Some representations use a lotus bud to symbolize a virgin. In contrast, a fully grown flower is a mature, sexually experienced female.
· The lotus is also an excellent example of remaining true to yourself and who you are. Regardless of the murky waters and environment, the lotus remains grounded, proud of what it is and yet still a part of its environment. It beautifies it and makes it better simply by being there.”
As I sat there taking in exactly what God was revealing to me about myself, and Him, I could only sit in silence. I was in awe.
What kind of God summarizes a person with 2 words that leads to a million other words that fit perfectly?
I am consistently floored at how smart and wise He really is, and His ability to communicate with us in such a personal way. I took in all of his heart. And I sat in the strength provided by the truth of identity given to me, and the fact that I was fashioned for everything that I’d ever faced, and would face. And more than any of these truths, I rested in the beauty of being heard, seen, felt, and ANSWERED. All of a sudden what I’d viewed as frailty and weakness were transformed into identity. I knew that I was MEANT to be processed in this fashion.
I knew that none of it was for nothing, or would ever be wasted.
God made sure that I got the message loud and clear, though delivered quietly and surely.
I don’t share many moments like this. My God moments are not only really personal, but require a lot of work to fully communicate the depth of each experience. I often fall short trying.
They are more personal to me than I can really communicate.
But as I got ready to retire for the evening, God impressed on my heart that I was to share this moment. It is so incredibly important to Him that you know that He is ever present inside of you and with you. It’s important to Him that you know that He hears you, and that He longs to share with you how He sees you, and meet your needs that you may not even know that you need. This is not just a story about me and God’s relationship. It’s a testimony of His personality. It’s a testament of His character. It is a reflection of what He is to all of us.
I pray that you create space for Him to be there for you in every season of your life. He desires to show you just how much He knows you, and how intimately involved He is in bringing about His will for your life.
Listen for his voice.
He does not always speak in full conversation with loaded sentences.
Sometimes it’s just two, little words that say more than two full chapters or paragraphs that one could speak.
He loves you so.