Bloom Where You Are Planted

Published with Permission

Written by Sheila Campbell

“Watch me!” the words rang out through the bright sunshine as my red-headed fireball of energy sped past on his bike. I stood just inside the door and watched in wonder as his hands gripped the handlebars tightly and his legs pedaled furiously against the brisk wind that left a trail of dust running after the boy and the bike.

West Texas is known for the wind that seems to whistle across the plains on a regular basis. If you live in West Texas, you either love the wind or you spend most of your time indoors and miserable. I love both the beautiful sunsets that paint the big Texas sky with color and the dusty winds that fill the air with dirt particles and catch the light of the sinking sun to give the sky its glorious hues.

Bloom where you are planted. It is an old statement, but there is a lot of truth to the words. I think, though, in order to truly bloom where we are planted we must be thankful for more than just the location that we call home; we must also be grateful for the circumstances and the seasons in which we find ourselves and learn to praise God and see His loving hand in both the good and the difficult things in our lives.

Justin had learned to ride the bike late in the summer, not long after his fifth birthday, but winter’s cold had forced the boy and the bike to wait until warmer days to resume their journeys on the dusty farm roads near our home. On that bright day, summer was just around the corner and Justin was taking full advantage of the warm weather. Less than a week earlier, he had coded on the table during a cardiac catheterization: his heart had stopped as the small tube attempted to pass through the non-existent pulmonary valve, and the physicians had immediately withdrawn the catheter and worked to revive his small body. Justin would soon face a second open heart surgery to replace the defective valve, but none of us could have imagined what lay ahead for our family.

Justin went into the hospital for that second surgery on May 5, 1992. We had just finished our first year of homeschooling, and with two more little boys, then aged 2 and 3, and another baby on the way, we were looking forward to many more joyous years of storybooks, fun crafts, and nature walks scattered among our more formal curriculum. God indeed did have those joyous times in store for our future, but he had many other lessons in store for us as well. We would discover that in order to bloom where we were planted—to blossom into vessels that overflowed with joy and peace—we would have to discover beauty and gratitude in yielding to God’s sovereignty and learn to grow in His love, ever expanding our hearts as we acknowledged His amazing grace and recognized His love for us in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Justin never fully recovered from that surgery. Complications from lack of oxygen resulted in severe brain damage. Justin would never again ride his bike; in fact, he would never again walk, talk, or even perform such basic tasks as feeding himself.

In the months and even years that followed, I struggled to comprehend why a loving God would allow such a tragedy. In those early years with a new baby, a toddler, and a preschooler, I struggled with a preconceived idea of “fairness.” It was not fair that my son was no longer normal and as a result, our household was no longer “normal.”   “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! . . . Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?” (Isaiah 45: 9). Just as a pot cannot protest about how it’s formed, neither can a seed protest to the gardener about the condition of the soil in which it is planted. Complaint and discontent only bring heartache and woe.

When Justin’s therapists began to suggest we place him in the public school system to provide us with some respite, I suddenly realized the depth of my conviction to continue to home school. During the years that followed, God began to reveal to me the beliefs within my heart and the source of those beliefs, particularly my concept of fairness. He used homeschooling and the people and ideas within the home school movement and community to drastically alter my worldview.

I realized that many of my thoughts about fairness and equality stemmed from my own education, where I was instilled with the mindset that all people were entitled to equal opportunities. I was educated in a system in which every child went to school on the same days, at the same time, in a system designed to treat everyone fairly and equally. “Equal opportunity” was a common expression, but it was this socialist concept of fairness and equal treatment for everyone that hindered my ability to completely surrender to God’s sovereignty.

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