To Abby, Briley, Corinne, Brynne, Hannah, Kamryn, Katelyn, Jordan, Sloan, Chelsea, Savannah, Lynn, Cezanne, and Isabella: You are some of the most beautiful flowers to walk this Earth.
If you know me, you know I love sunflowers. For those of you who do not know why...
I remember sitting at a cafeteria table with my good pal Zoe when a simple google search changed my life. We were killing time until our painting class at the community college in Lansing started. Both of us had been talking about tattoos and how we both could not wait to have more. At the time I only had one and I really wanted every tattoo I got to mean something important. I loved the idea of a flower tattoo but only because it was pretty (side note: I think getting a tattoo for the soul purpose of thinking its pretty is a great reason. You do you.) I wanted my next tattoo to be a picture of something that would remind me to keep on when times got hard, to preserver no matter what, something that would realign me with my belief in Jesus. Yes, I was putting a lot of pressure on this second tattoo.
Okay, back to google. I typed in "flowers and their meanings" hoping something mind blowing would pop up. I had always loved sunflowers growing up and the summer memories they would bring but I shoved that thought aside. I looked at pictures of beautiful blooms I'd never heard of with beautiful stories attached to them. Yet nothing stuck. Then at the very bottom of this website page was a paragraph about my old pal, the sunflower. It said something along the lines of this "The sunflower will grow wherever you plant it. No matter where you plant your sunflower, it will always grow to face the sun. This has been used as a symbol of foundation for people of faith."
This fact about sunflowers may be common knowledge, yet reading about it during that particular time in my life really struck a chord. I had moved a lot for a twenty year old and was preparing to move again a few months after my twenty-first birthday. The sentiment was comforting, it was encouraging.
Fast forward a few month later: It was a Sunday afternoon and I was getting ready to go youth group. I volunteered as a small group leader to some of the best young ladies in the entire world (more on that another week). It was a somber weekend. The Paris terrorist attacks had happened a few days prior and the world was obviously shaken. My phone went off and I noticed a text from one of the young ladies in my small group. She had attached an article talking about how ISIS was making threats to many American states, including Michigan (where we were living at the time). Along with the article she simply wrote "I'm scared". I had no idea what to do in that moment. I knew the news was painting this story in a color that would invoke fear, and that not all the facts were straight. Yet there I sat, scared too. Telling this tenth grader to not worry and everything would be fine felt like the easy way out. We both knew the world was becoming a scarier place, and there wasn't much we could do to change that.
So, like any normal person would do in this kind of situation, I grabbed crayons and paper. Yes, I began to color. There was about fifteen squares of paper that I cut, and on each of them I drew a sunflower. Then on the top of each paper square I wrote "Face the Son" and emphasized the "O". Cheesy? A little bit, but my gut was screaming at me "You all need this".
The evening came and the girls all sat down in our usual small group spot, waiting for me to begin our group time. I started talking about sunflowers and how their meaning had been stuck in my mind for months. I pulled out the bunch of drawings I made, and because I had no good answers to why the world can be so scary, I told them facing the Son is all we can do. That evening ended with one of the ninth grade ladies asking if we could pray for the terrorists during our closing time. So we did. We prayed for terrorists. We prayed that they would know the love of Jesus and we thanked God for allowing us to grow no matter where He puts us or where He puts our world.
Fast forward again, now to the spring of that year. I had about a month before moving to Florida and I went with my Sister in Law to get a big sunflower tattooed on my arm. That day in itself was not anything remarkable, but it gave me the smallest amount of extra courage. Courage to move forward. Courage to move forward knowing I was about to enter a very difficult season. Because every look down at my arm would remind me that where I was planted was not always going to be my choice, yet I had the never ending privilege to choose to grow in the right direction.
Maybe right now you are sitting at a desk at a job you hate, or at your kitchen table thinking you never wanted to end up like this. Or maybe you are in season filled with laughter and promise. No matter where the sunflower seed of your life has been planted, you can grow and produce in ways you never thought possible. I hope this spoke to you. I also hope you go out to the store today and buy a bunch of sunflowers; either give them to yourself, or drive to that one persons house and tell them you are happy they exist.