By Ashley Pooser
Nothing compares to springtime in North Florida. We had the chance to go back to our hometown for a quick visit then, and the timing could not have been more perfect. It seemed as if all the trees and flowers were in full bloom.
One tree, in particular, caught my attention—the dogwood. Dogwoods are beautiful and a popular choice for landscaping. Feeling a tiny bit homesick, I wondered if there was a way to take this bit of Tallahassee back to Atlanta with me. Despite my categorically black thumb, I decided to research where to buy a dogwood and how to move it to my yard.
A quick internet search resulted in dozens of sites teeming with detailed instructions. You have to wait until just the right time of year to plant the sapling. You have to find just the right spot in your yard and prepare the soil. You have to dig a hole just the right size and at just the right depth. You have to spread the roots in just the right way. You have to water it just the right amount.
It was obvious that any dogwood tree coming home with me would be in immediate, mortal danger.
The next afternoon, while driving through my parents’ mostly wooded neighborhood, I spotted glorious white dogwood blossoms through some dense stands of pines and oaks. I had never realized so many dogwoods grow wild just down the street. They completely blend in with all the other trees around them until those few weeks each spring when they explode into bloom.
God used that moment to whisper a sweet encouragement to my heart, and I’d love to pass it along to you.
Often, I find myself striving, desperately wanting to make my mark on the world. With any hint of a calling, I gather up everything that could possibly be considered gifts or talents and I try to bend them and mold them and wrangle them into what I think my calling is supposed to look like.
This is exhausting. It doesn’t yield the results I hope for. It’s frustrating and discouraging. It’s very much how I imagine the experience of planting a dogwood tree would have gone. I would have tried to do all the “right” things in just the right order—so much work and effort—in hopes of blooming.
And yet those wild dogwoods flourish. The soil wasn’t cultivated. The timing wasn’t meticulously planned for maximum productivity. No one even knew they were there. Only God did.
Those wild dogwoods are exactly where God planted them. For twenty-five years, they’ve been growing to maturity, blending in with all the surrounding trees. Nothing particularly special makes them stand out, until that moment comes when God says, “Okay. Now.” Then those once-overlooked trees burst into bloom, through no effort of their own, fulfilling their God-given purpose of glorifying the Creator.
God used those dogwoods to remind me we can’t force a calling. We can absolutely rest assured that we each have one, but it may not look or sound like what we expected and it may not adhere to the timeline we set for ourselves.
That’s the beauty of a creative God. He works all our gifts and talents to complement one another. All we have to do is focus on him. In our goings and our comings, in our moments big and small, in our work and in our play, we glorify the Creator. And then, in his perfect timing, we bloom.
Ashley Doyle Pooser is a wife and a mom of three. She recently moved to Atlanta, where she’s trying her best to be a responsible adult but feels like she’s mostly flying by the seat of her pants. She blogs at ashleydoylepooser.com.
Photograph © Bethany Beams, used with permission