Bloom Where You’re Planted
Throughout the season of the CrossFit Open, I’ve been reflecting on the changes I’ve undergone as an athlete in the past 10 or so months since joining the sport. The athlete that I was over the summer wouldn’t have been able to handle the Open, mentally or physically, as well as the athlete I am now. I have learned an immense amount (much more than just technique and strategy) but about myself as a person and why I am pursuing the goals and dreams that I have.
This time of reflection has also allowed me to reflect on the growth that I’ve experienced as a person over the last year or so, as well. This time last year, I was a completely different person. In the superficial realms: I was an undergraduate student at the largest Christian university in the world; I was completing my final gymnastics season; I was preparing myself for a seemingly insurmountable set of changes, i.e. graduating college, moving out on my own, and beginning graduate school. However, in a more meaningful sense, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I have grown tenfold. I’ve experienced an tremendous amount of growth in my self-esteem, self-awareness, and just overall self-acceptance; I understand my worth as a Christian, a woman, and a counterpart in any relationship; I have overcome a crippling sense of insecurity, thanks to the loving patience of Jesus. I am truly a new creation, as stated in II Corinthians 5:17. This season of my life has been enriched with restoration and redemption, a complete heart transplant.
Recently, I’ve been reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. (If you’re a female and haven’t read this book – I HIGHLY recommend it (then give it to your man and make him read it, too.) It digs through the nitty gritty of a woman’s heart, healing those scars you’re afraid to even go near again, and how to thrive as a woman in relation to others. I had a male Christian friend pass it along to me during my season of pain and change, and I can truly say that it has changed my life and the perspective I have toward my own God-crafted heart.
I note this as a preface for the quote I’d like to share with you. As Stasi is unpacking what ‘true beauty’ looks like and how to reveal it, she notes, “…a newly planted rose’s presentation in its first year is nothing compared to its second. If properly cared for, its second year’s display doesn’t hold a candle to its third. Gardens need to become established; their roots need to go deep through summer rains and winter frosts” (p. 147).
As I was reading this particular chapter, I had just completed the first round of the Open. I was defeated and feeling down on myself for not ‘measuring up’ to the most elite athletes (which is unrealistic enough as it is). I continued to ruminate on how I’d never reach my goals as a CrossFit athlete; I proceeded to ask myself, why am I even trying? And then I came across these words. It seemed that they were crafted just for me as I heard God whisper this promise into my heart: “Just you wait until next year. And then the year after that; you won’t even believe the things I will do for you. Just wait. Be patient. Trust me. The best is yet to come.”
After reading this passage, I researched a little bit about what growing roses is like. I found that for roses to grow to a full capacity, they have to go through a cold stratification period and a germination period. In other words, some species of roses have to go through a cold season before they can actual begin to grow (germination). I read that it can even take months or years for a rose bush to fully germinate! One species of rose grows best if it is planted in the fall, stays dormant in the winter, and then blooms in the spring. How freaking cool.
You’re probably thinking, “Ok, Ashley. Enough with the rose analogy. Where are you going with this?” Here’s your answer: in other words, you may have to go through various seasons in order to grow and bloom fully. This includes harsh, bitter winters and blistering summers of challenge and change.
Receiving this promise instantly overwhelmed me with the peace that only He can provide. I knew in that moment that He wasn’t only talking about CrossFit, although He does know how important that outlet is for me and desires to give me the desires of my heart that glorify Him; He was speaking truth over the state of my heart. He was filling me with a promise tailored just for me in that moment, saying, “Ashley, just you wait. Like a rose, you must go through seasons of blistering heat and terrible cold, but when you bloom in the spring, your beauty will be so much so that you won’t even recognize yourself.”
As I continue to endure this season of change and adjustment (because yes, although I’ve been in graduate school for 7 months, I am still adjusting and coming to terms with the fact that that is ok), I have this hope in my heart and soul form Jesus. He WILL deliver me and He will complete the work that He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).
And He absolutely will do the same for you. Bloom where you’re planted.