My name, Sue, has several meanings, one being flowered one. That meaning describes me best. Some people like flowers; I need them. Some can visit gardening stores and walk away with a plant or two; I leave with a trunk exploding with blossoming color. My name precisely matches my fondness of flowers.
Last fall, I dug up my iris bed to divide them. Since they had performed poorly the previous spring, and were thickly overcrowded, I figured thinning them might jump-start more blooms next time around. After separating the tubers, I had plenty left to share with a few of my neighbors. That way we could all enjoy their floral beauty.
As spring began warming their roots, my anticipation of an elaborate display gained momentum, as daily the iris leaves broadened and their grassy green shoots rose. With certain expectation, I anxiously awaited the thickening bulges at the base of each leafy cluster, telltale signs of pending blooms. I waited, yet nothing happened. At least not in my iris bed.
Although I had thinned them, fertilized them and shared them, my anticipated showcase of irises never arrived. My iris bed was instead only clumps of greenery. For one particular neighbor, Brenda, one of those with whom I had shared, her iris bed was lovelier than I had ever seen in my own. It was if my flowering showcase had packed up and moved next door.
At first, I was a little miffed. Jealous and pouting, I wondered why hers had bloomed so prolifically their first time out. I reasoned that I deserved beautiful blossoms this year, too, especially since I had shared. Sadly, my pity party revealed a heart as lacking in genuine concern for others as my flowers were in blooms.
With a gentle prick at my heart, the kind every rose gardener recognizes as a prompt for caution around thorns, God reminded me of the hardships this neighbor was enduring. Suffering from a variety of physical ailments, some which have lasted years and for which there is no cure, this sister in Christ has few times in life when she is not sick. Currently, she is not able to drive and rarely ventures out. With much deserved reprimand, God gently scolded me for my selfishness and revealed to me the reason her irises were so magnificent. I may have needed them, but she needed them more.
Not long after my scolding, I saw my neighbor out front with her husband. By then, I had repented of my wrong attitude, and had instead been enjoying the beauty of her flowers as I drove by them each day. I had also begun praying for her more earnestly. Thus, by the time I met with her, God had straightened out my priorities and I was genuinely able to applaud her splendid spring flowers. As I saw the gleam in her expressions, and her delight when discussing her enjoyment of the irises, I was so thankful that God had changed my heart. My little trip to the woodshed with God had replaced pathetic selfishness with abundant joy in giving.
Perhaps the greater lesson I learned is that those flowers I keep referring to as my own, even by one named flowered one, are not really mine at all. They all belong to God. One day, I will have all the flowers I could ever need and more. Until then, and to help me remember my lesson, I have decided to name my irises after my neighbor. Now, instead of mine, they are all Brenda’s Irises.