Things that concern me:
1) Spiders, ticks, and bed bugs. Forming an alliance. Getting along.
2) The unfinished part of my basement. Filled with spiders, ticks, and bed bugs. Not really, but what if?!?
3) Chinese quality control
Recently I’ve been struggling with how we can recite Christianese with all the authority of scripture. It’s like we’re adding to the Bible. It reminds me a lot of what the Pharisees did back in the day, maybe at first with good intentions because they wanted so desperately to please God. That’s a whole other conversation I’m not going to get into.
But long story short, are we still doing it today? Adding new rules and things to do in a (well meaning) attempt to be good Christians?
Like this one:
Bloom where you’re planted.
I see love your neighbor, be light and salt, go and make disciples of all the nations, do unto others as you would have them do to you, and many other Biblical calls to love and serve others. I can’t for the life of me find “bloom where you’re planted” in the Bible.
When I tried to trace its origins I got as far back as Frances de Sales, a Bishop of Geneva in the 1600s.
Here’s the thing. I think this phrase was originally coined with good intentions. A call to serve how we can where we are now, instead of waiting for someday when… And that concept certainly is scriptural, as well as the metaphors of being planted and blooming (or bearing fruit) (i.e. Psalm 92:12-14, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Galatians 5:22-23) . But the phrase itself is not scriptural, and it’s easily misconstrued.
Lately I’ve heard this phrase recited by Christians about everything from our jobs to the cities where we live to our churches with an uncomfortable emphasis on being planted, almost as if the idea of being planted in one place is scriptural. And the idea of moving on is, well, a matter of unfaithfulness.
But when the Bible speaks of planting, isn’t it often referring to planting seeds (sharing the Gospel) and/or being rooted in Christ and God’s word, not so much being planted in a particular place?
So it’s concerning that this well-meaning phrase has led so many Christians to believe they’re planted, or stuck, in one place. By God, no less.
And it creates so many questions. Like how do we know when we’re planted and when we’re not? If I move to California because I like the climate, am I planted there? Or does God have something better for me somewhere else? And how do we know how long we’re supposed to be planted somewhere? Is the high school senior allowed to explore out of state college options more than the married family of four is allowed to explore out of state job opportunities? Because leaving your home town for college is normal, but leaving your residence of the past 5 years for a new opportunity means you’re not blooming where planted?
But what if we’re not “planted” at all? What if we’re just loving our neighbors, being light and salt, and sharing the gospel wherever we go, no matter how long we may be there? What if we’re only supposed to be somewhere for a season, and that’s ok? What if we’re just passing through, like the Israelites on the way to the promised land. God didn’t plant them in the desert for 40 years (although in His omniscience He knew they’d stay). They did that to themselves, moving round and round the same mountain because they were less scared of staying in the same place than fighting their way into the promised land. God still blessed the Israelites in the desert, but that doesn’t mean he wanted them to stay there.
Are we missing out on opportunities because we’re too focused on being planted?
Can you imagine if Matthew was like “Sorry Jesus, I can’t leave this tax booth to follow you. I’m going to bloom where I’m planted”?
Or missionaries? “Sorry, God, I can’t pack up my family and move to another country. I’m blooming where I’m planted.”
Or me? “Sorry, hubby, I can’t pack up and move cross country to your neck of the woods so that we can get married and start our life together. I’m blooming where planted.” Yes, I said neck of the woods. That’s probably the first and last time you’ll ever hear me say it.
Or the artist who’s been gifted with so much talent but is afraid to leave her current job and start her own business because that might mean she’s not grateful for her current situation and she’s not blooming where planted?
Are we adding new rules to being a Christian?
Can we focus less on being “planted” and agree that we should serve and love our neighbors no matter where we are and no matter how long we stay? Can we agree that sometimes moving on to a new city or job or whatever is okay or even best for us, and it doesn’t mean we love our neighbors or coworkers any less?
How do you interpret “bloom where you’re planted?” Do you feel like it gets used out of context / misunderstood far too often, too?
Original photo of Business Lady Thinking by maya picture from freedigitalphotos.net. Adapted by Stephanie Oh.