There is a stretch of highway near where I used to live that is on my list of top three worst roads to drive – the Taconic State Parkway. For some reason, New York likes to call winding, narrow two-lane roads with no shoulders “parkways”. They also like to give them speed limits of 55mph, which, if you’ve ever been to NY, you know means 75mph to anyone driving on it. This is not a stereotype, it is a fact. Adding to the madness, the exit ramps and on-ramps are about as long as one car length, and the overpasses are just tall enough to eek an SUV under (i.e. do not find yourself driving a U-Haul on these roads, not that I ever did that). Depending on the amount of traffic, driving the Taconic can feel chaotic, particularly if you are not used to the section on which you are traveling. There is, however, something beautiful that you will find in the midst of your nail-biting journey. Along various stretches of this parkway are patches of wildflowers nestled among decades-old trees and tall, wispy grass. They spring up in the median and on the sides of the highway, unaware that they are sprinkling the landscape of a roadway filled with frantic drivers hustling to get to work, school, and soccer practice. They are a welcome reminder of beauty on the journey from point A to point B.
Life can feel a bit like this sometimes. Moments, days, and even entire seasons can feel like driving on a narrow highway in rush hour traffic – chaotic. At times, our chaos stems from blessings – raising little ones, a hectic job schedule, or a move to a new home. Even so, blessings can come with busyness, raise our stress level, and send our brains spinning out of control (like when you try to leave the house with a toddler who wants to tie his own shoes). Then there are seasons of hardship – the loss of a loved one, days marked by depression and anxiety, times of unemployment, seasons of illness or financial uncertainty. These can knock the wind out of us and cause us to be less aware of the goodness still surrounding us.
In both good and difficult chaos, I have found that if we pick our eyes up off the road in front of us, we start to notice wildflowers in bloom – little blessings that can ease our frenzied thoughts and harried pace. They come in many forms: A text from a bestie, time to read a book in silence, running into a friend at the store. They are all around us, popping up in the path of our days, right under our nose. They are calling us to lift our eyes away from what is weighing us down and choose to see the beauty in the chaotic. Something wonderful happens when we do – we are reminded that the Creator of the universe cares for us and because of that we need not be anxious about tomorrow.
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?… “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:28-30,34, NLT (Emphasis mine)
So, how can we recognize little blessings in our own lives? How can we be a blessing to someone else? The following are my top five tips for seeing and being a wildflower in chaos.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
If you are in a season of busyness, hardship, waiting, or even a season of rest, keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to focus your mind on things that are true, pure, and lovely (Phil 4:8). It is so much easier to automatically recognize things that cause us discomfort, anxiety, and fear. By practicing gratitude, we learn to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18) and we ultimately bring glory to the Creator of all things. Not sure where to start? Check out these gratitude journal prompts from our girl over at Self Care Bestie! As an added bonus, keeping a gratitude journal not only helps you identify wildflowers in your own life, but creates in you a joy that is contagious and in turn becomes a blessing to others!
Commit to Praying for People
Pray for people that know you’re praying for them and people that will never know. Boldly approach Jesus on their behalf. If you are able to, send them a quick text just to let them know that you prayed for them that day. Why does this matter? Prayer changes things. I will not pretend to be a theological expert on this*, but I have seen its power in my life and the lives of others. Prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16). It also connects us to other people on a deep level. We become a gift (a wildflower, if you will) to others when we pray for them.
Use What You Have to Bless Others
Do you like to bake? Make some cookies and share some with a neighbor. Are you picking up lunch for yourself? Grab an extra salad or coffee and drop it off at a friend’s house who may be having a rough day. You can even leave it on the porch and send them a quick text to let them know it’s there. Do you have note cards at home? Write to a friend that you haven’t talked to in a while. Getting snail mail is always a blessing! You get the idea: By using what you already have and altering your daily routine just slightly you can bless others enormously. When we intentionally slow our pace to make room for loving others, our own chaos fades into the background as we experience the joy of caring for our friends and neighbors.
Intentionally be Kind to a Stranger
This may sound trivial at first, but hear me out. Often, we can go through our day without really taking the time to notice the people around us, be it at the store, the park, or school drop off, especially when life feels chaotic. When I was 39 weeks pregnant with my second, I ventured to the park with my toddler one afternoon. I had zero desire to be there, but I had promised him we would go that day, so I was holding up my end of the bargain. There were two other moms there when we arrived and they were chatting, laughing, and having a great time. I was grumpy and feeling sorry for myself, so I sat on a bench far enough away that I wouldn’t have to engage in conversation with them (not something I’m proud of). Eventually, my son started playing with their kids and I could no longer avoid being social. They were kind and welcoming to me, asking about my pregnancy and suggesting toddler play places that would be easy to visit with a newborn. As a result of their kindness, my mood lifted and to this day I am friends with one of these women, all because they took the time to be intentional with a stranger. When we pause to make eye contact, say hello, or give a compliment to a stranger, we can tangibly alter the course of someone’s day in ways that we may never know.
Take a Walk
If the weather allows, take a walk outside and literally look for wildflowers! If you are struggling to see the hand of God in your life during a particularly hard season, spend some time in nature. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”. It is impossible to spend time in the midst of what God created and not find something to thank Him for, simply because He is the Creator of all! (When it’s too cold for a walk, take a drive and notice the snow, evergreen trees, and sun.) Taking a walk is therapeutic and is often the pause button that we need during our day. It can help clear our mind, allow us to be more aware of the blessings in our life, and give us space to consider how we may be a blessing to others. A win-win!
Where have you seen Wildflowers in your chaos? How can you be a Wildflower for someone else today? Let us know in the comments!
*Tim Keller is though, and his book “Prayer” is phenomenal.
Photo: Hand Lettering by Sarah Boulware of @letterseed