This week I started culling my garden, pulling out the stalks that have fallen over because of the heavy sunflower heads. The marigolds will be taken out next and the ground left until next spring. Even as I start preparing the garden for colder weather, though, I have to stop and smile at the last sunflower to bloom.
This last and smallest sunflower is special to me. I’ve watched it carefully all summer, rooting for it to grow. When it was a new seedling a rabbit viewed it as his own personal salad and snipped the top right off. I left the bare stalk because I was curious to see if it would live. Since I’m new at gardening everything is experimental anyway.
The little stalk did live, short and stunted but alive, nonetheless. Even more impressive, new shoots grew out of the old barren one. Small buds formed and now, months later, a lone sunflower bloomed at last.
This year my sunflowers survived not just hungry rodents, but also an overeager nephew who enthusiastically helped me water, heavy storms, rocky soil, and my inexperience. There was even this weird mushroom collection that cropped up. The other day I stood at the window and watched the sunflowers wave wildly in the wind and get beaten down in the rain. I didn’t think they would pop up again.
They may look pretty, but they are TOUGH, however- time after time they came back, growing taller and stronger. By the end of the summer the sunflowers were towering above me.
In spite of hardships they survived, they grew, thrived, and became beautiful.
For me, my garden is a bright spot of joy and beauty. I never get tired of looking at it. My niece was scrolling through photos on my phone the other day and complaining about how many sunflower pictures there were. I just laughed and told her they were easier to photograph than nieces and nephews.
Growth through Challenges
All summer, all through this crazy period of quarantine, social distancing, and uncertainty, that little sunflower has been a symbol of hope and perseverance to me. The rabbit ate the top, but the plant simply rerouted itself and kept on growing.
Personal growth is so much harder to write about than sunflowers, but I feel like the principle is the same. We’re not going to be eaten by rabbits (gosh, I really hope not), but we are going to face tough times. We will have our lives rerouted. Possibilities may be snipped off midway through.
Unfortunately, we don’t grow when our lives are easy. Growth is usually accomplished through pain and struggles. It comes from being snipped and rerouted and beaten down through life’s storms.
Most of us like easy, don’t we? There are those that thrive on challenge. I admire them and wish I was more like them. But honestly, that’s not me. I can’t even give up sugar.
Sometimes we can’t avoid the hard things, though. For me personally, I know that singleness has made a huge impact on who I am as a woman. It is definitely a “hard thing” that forces me to face challenges all the time.
Being single isn’t easy. We, as single women, have to…
Learn how to do our own repairs
Sit at the awkward singles table at wedding receptions because they don’t know where else to seat us
Come home to an empty house night after night
Deal with all the ignorant comments people send our way
Take sole responsibility for all financial burdens and choices
Remove gross, crawly critters from the house
Face life on our own
And so much more. All of that can bring us down. It can leave us feeling just as battered and beaten down as sunflowers caught in a summer storm.
But when it does, remember the smallest sunflower. The one that bloomed despite adversity.
We grow when life is hard.
The single life can be tough, but it’s also made me stronger. I’ve had to deal with a lot on my own. I would be a completely different woman if I was married.
If life feels like a fight right now, take a deep breath, step back, and look for all the ways God is working during this time. Be strong in the storms.
Grow. And may your life shine just as beautifully as a sunflower.
This week I’m thankful for the blessing of a summer garden. It can teach us so much. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!