She was standing in front of the bouquets of flowers, with a shopping basket in one hand, purse slung across her shoulder, and her hair tired from a long day at the office. It was rush hour, when women from all walks of life intersected at Trader Joe’s to pick up food for dinner.
“Hard to decide what to pick, huh?” I turned to smile, standing next to her.
“Yeah,” she answered with a chuckle, probably to be polite. She wore a cool pair of spectacles and a cute wrinkle in her nose when she smiled.
“What are you deciding between?” I asked.
My new friend told me she’s not sure. She said she’ll often stand there, unable to choose. Then, she’ll go home with her groceries, without any flowers.
“That used to happen to me all the time, ” I said. “I wouldn’t be able decide between the flowers I really wanted and the ones that cost less . . . ”
“YES! Exactly!” my bespectacled friend interjected. She turned to me now with recognition. We were of the same tribe. Women who were unable to bring flowers home to enjoy.
“I’d talk myself out of it,” I confided. “I’d say, It’s not worth it. They’ll only last a few days. I later realized what I was actually saying was, I am not worth it. What I find joy in for a few days isn’t worth it.”
“So true,” my friend nodded with wide-eyed agreement.
I asked her if there were flowers she’d loved as a little girl, if there were flowers she liked more as she grew up.
This stranger-become-kindred-spirit started sharing stories about why sunflowers made her happy. They reminded her of summer and riding her bike with a white basket adorned with a plastic sunflower. But lately, she was drawn to hydrangeas because they were soothing.
“Your stories are special,” I said. “There’s something about flowers. About how God made them. How God made us. I read that scientific studies show simply looking at flowers improves emotional health.”
“Really?!” My friend was intrigued.
“A Harvard study even showed that women who had the morning-blahs, who usually didn’t buy flowers, experienced a boost in energy and their moods lifted, lasting throughout the day, by seeing flowers in the kitchen first thing in the morning.”
“How do you know all this?” she asked.
I told her I had lost my spark a few years ago. I had been good at taking care of others and getting things done. But I hadn’t been good at nurturing my own heart or taking care of my well-being. So I became overwhelmed with stress, even though I was good at working hard, pleasing others, surviving, and pushing through. But in my honest moments, I longed to find my spark again: to experience God’s peace and joy in a fresh, intimate way.
Women are heroes when it comes to loving and caring for others. But why is it so hard to give ourselves permission to rest and refresh, when we’re stressed and need it most?
My friend began to share. I listened.
“You are worth it,” I told her, as I looked in her eyes, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. “You are worth taking care of.”
Deep inside us, God created an inner spirit that needs nurturing. We were made to be loved, cared for, and given attention. We all need permission to take better care of ourselves. We all need a friend to help us remember we are like beautiful flowers blossoming in the fields.
As we picked out our flowers, I invited her to connect with me online. I told her I’m an author leading a community of women like us: kindred spirits on the journey to nurture our soul and find our spark again. As we said goodbye, I whispered, Thank You, God.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
God doesn’t want us to do more for Him. He longs to take care of us and whisper words of love and peace.
Instead of layering on guilt when you feel stressed, let God love you by getting some tender love and care.
Rest in your loving Savior’s arms. Take one day at a time. God will provide.