Forced Blooms — Carol McLeod Ministries

(Photo: Unsplash)

In late winter, I love browsing the floral department in my grocery store. There are the usual assortments of cacti, cut flowers flown in from the south, and stunning forced-bloom forsythias. The forsythias are noble—long, leggy branches with yellow buds exploding through a thin skin of bark. Eye-catching. Almost prideful. 

Something about blooming branches is even more attractive than blooming flowers. They’re unusual. They don’t just bloom from the top but across their entire surface. They seem a bit out of season, maybe because they are.  

Once while shopping, I began thinking about those forced blooms, considering which of my outdoor shrubs I could snip from to produce the same effect at what I thought would be no cost. Unfortunately, I soon realized there would be a significant cost. While cutting branches from my bushes would provide perhaps one week’s beauty, it would deprive me of the years of enjoyment the branch could give me if I left it on the shrub to grow as intended. 

The branch dies once cut and is forced to bloom away from its natural environment. It must stay attached to the main plant to continue to mature and bear fruit – in its season – as intended.

I’d been wrestling with one of my children about a personal choice that week. Nudged to Scripture, I read a familiar passage in Proverbs 22. I’d always taken it to be solely marching orders to train my kids in the faith. Sometimes when I read a familiar passage of Scripture, I brush right on by the nuances, assuming that I already know what it means and perhaps have nothing left to learn from it. That time, nudged by the Spirit, I took a closer, prayerful look.

The way they should go. 

That did not necessarily mean the way I thought they should go.

So often, as moms, we feel as though we have created our children. By nature and nurture, we do pour ourselves into them. But they are not primarily our children; they are God’s. My children are uniquely created; they are not copies of me, my husband, or anyone else. They have singular, God-given destinies, works He created in advance for them alone to do. While I see myself and my husband in them, they are made in His image, not mine (Genesis 1:27).

We know all of the days ordained for us were recorded in His scroll before one of them came into existence (Psalm 139:16b). We may not always know what the plan is for our children, but He does. That is something to take comfort in when their lives do not conform to our initial expectations.  

Our children’s schooling or career choices might not be what we thought they would be. They might ink their skin or worship at a different kind of church. They will likely make all kinds of unanticipated decisions. But if we help them grow in their God-given direction, God will enjoy years—even decades—of them blooming for His glory. The best part is when I support my child as they become who God created them to be, they sense my unconditional love, and as a result, we grow close as two branches attached to the same vine (John 15:5). 

God does not want my children to be forced to bloom out of place for my enjoyment or pride. Instead, he wants them to be nurtured to maturity and flourish when and where He’d intended all along. If I lean in as a mom, He will help me to do just that. 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6