perfect plastic flowers

Last September, when we were in Ireland, we often saw buildings adorned with beautiful baskets of flowers.

One day I finally got close enough to get a close-up photo, and that's when Andy said to me, "Those are plastic."

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That's when I realized: it's late September, these are summer flowers, yeah, all these baskets I've been seeing are full of plastic flowers.

They were still pretty, don't get me wrong. 

It's just different when you realize they're all plastic.

 Dublin; pretty flowers, but you know...plastic

Dublin; pretty flowers, but you know...plastic

I was thinking about plastic flowers because I wrote about perfectionism last time, and I showed you a picture of my Tangerine Crossvine in full springtime bloom.

Remember this?

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Well, two days later, I woke up and it looked like this.

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Not looking so perfect any more.

Of course we all know this is just the natural growth cycle of this very healthy, mature vine. It's doing exactly what it's supposed to do: exuberant spring blooms, a big die-off, and then sporadic blooms throughout the summer, depending on how much rain and heat we get.

The problem is, though, that we don't accept these kinds of growth cycles very easily when it comes to ourselves.

And if we're in a religious system that pushes the perfection narrative hard, our religious system may not accept our natural, maturing growth cycle very well either.

If we're maturing, we're going to be growing.

And if we're growing, we're going to be changing.

Change is inherent to growth.

You can't have "spiritual growth" without spiritual change.

Scary stuff, right?

Fear can keep us sticking a bunch of perfect plastic flowers all over the place, rather than allowing ourselves to go through whatever is next in our spiritual process.

Maybe it's a bit less scary if we look to the example of Jesus and consider the flowers, for they grow and mature and change.

They bloom and they wither and they die and they bloom again.

And it's all okay.

It's all normal.

It's all maturing.

It's all good.

In fact, it's very good.

It's the only way to Real.

To read more about spiritual growth and change:

Stages of Faith, James Fowler

Faith Shift, Kathy Escobar

Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey

Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans

Finding God in the Waves, Mike McHargue

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