“But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” (Exodus 1:7-8)
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt
When my kids were about eight and nine years old, one of them said to me, “Mom, when I turn eighteen, I’m moving out.” I froze. “Really? You’re gonna leave me? Why?” The last question was more of a whine. This conversation was about ten years premature and I didn’t want to think about it, even then. I geared myself up to lay on the guilt, heavy and thick because I didn’t want my baby to LEAVE me. But then, my child stopped me with one question: “Aren’t we supposed to?” Which made me think: “Ok, yeah – if I do my job right, raise them to adulthood and teach them how to take care of themselves and be responsible citizens, they‘re supposed to move out and be on their own. Then they can raise their own successful families.”
It could be viewed, I reasoned, as a measure of success, maturity and growth. So successful parenting meant encouraging my children to grow up and get out there on their own, not trying to keep them suspended forever THERE, as my babies. Growth is a natural progression. You’re supposed to move on after you’ve absorbed all that you can from that experience.
A phrase I’ve heard bandied about for some time is, “Bloom where you’re planted.” It means you can grow or increase, right where you are. You can flourish; you can create and go on to that next level or become something else, all within your current situation. In essence, it means, you work with what you’ve got. And that’s true, but only up to a point; this mentality can actually stunt your growth. Think about it – a potted plant can only grow so much before having to be moved to a bigger pot. There’s a limit to how much you can grow where you are. Many of us have become complacent and stationary, spinning our wheels, treading water. We find ourselves in situations that no longer fit our lives or enable us to use our gifts and talents. We allow ourselves to be chained in relationships that are no longer healthy. We get frustrated and wonder why everything is a struggle. It’s because we have become stagnant. But we resist growth because there is a very real fear that we could potentially outgrow something or someone. And that frightens us because once you’ve outgrown your situation, it’s time to change your situation.
There’s that word again. Change is scary. It’s out of our comfort zone. We fight to hold on to life as we know it because change can also be painful. Who wants to change? I mentioned this to my sister one day and she was surprised by my attitude. After all, I AM the ADVOCATE for change! But, I fear change as much as the next person. It’s just that I’ve realized I am fighting a losing battle. Change is the way of life. It’s like a freight train. It’s coming and there’s little you can do about it, except to make up your mind how you’re gonna deal with it. When I see that change is inevitable, I see two choices left to me: Get on board with it or get run over by it! After my initial resistance, I usually enter a stage of acceptance. Once you accept that things are changing, you can move forward.
The Israelites faced a similar predicament. When Joseph relocated his family to Egypt to avoid famine, he’d moved them into a situation that would bless them. The Pharaoh had great respect for Joseph and the God that he served. So he made Joseph his second-in-command and later urged Joseph to move his family to Egypt. The Pharaoh even gave them their own territory. It was a very generous offer. But there came a time when a new Pharaoh rose to power. He didn’t acknowledge the God of Israel, let alone recognize their favored position as Joseph’s descendants. He saw the Israelites as a threat. He forced them into slavery and slew their newborn sons. The Israelites blessing had become a curse. The signs were evident, the new Pharaoh’s attitude was a BIG HONKING CLUE – it was time to move on.
So God sent Moses to tell the Israelites that he would lead them to their own land – a land of prosperity, flowing with milk and honey. They’d spent generations growing beyond the large family of twelve brothers into a great nation of twelve tribes. They’d outgrown their current situation and were being primed to move into the next level, their inheritance. Moses was leading them to a land where God could bless them again. So the Israelites left BUT they grumbled and complained all along the way. At times they wanted to go back to Egypt because even though it wasn’t the best life, it was the life they knew. They hadn’t truly moved on – their minds were still back in Egypt. Their obstinacy led to their undoing – because they wouldn’t move forward in their thinking, they couldn’t possess the land God wanted to give them. They wandered the desert for forty years like people lost, just out of reach of their promised land.
From their story, I learned this lesson: The time to “bloom where you’re planted” eventually comes to an end. God wants to take us forward, to bless us and do something wonderful and to move us on to bigger and better things. Life is about moving on. Somewhere along the line, I realized that fighting growth meant fighting change and potentially, fighting my blessing. Now, when seeming calamity comes along, I am able to consider that it may very well be God, shaking me out of my comfort zone and telling me it’s time to move on. Actually, I’ve resisted change so much, at times, that the only way I would or could move on is because God, himself, moved me. That’s when he reveals that my landing place was only a launching pad. It was meant to be a period of growth and preparation; merely a transition to take me to the next level.
So, sure, do what you can, where you are … and then move on. Don’t put down roots where you’re only meant to make a pit stop. I’m learning how to recognize the signs that a situation is no longer working for me AND that there is value in knowing when to move on.