Have you ever actually gazed at the beauty of a rose in its opened form? I'm not talking about the roses you see at the store with their petals so tightly bundled. I'm talking about a rose that has sat for a while, opened up revealing the beauty of all its petals. It makes sense why the stores sell them all tightly wound like that so the buyer has more time to enjoy them and watch them open. But when I look at these roses I can't help but think they look a whole lot like you and me.
I'm sure we have all heard the metaphors of being a rose with thorns, but this is less about the thorns we bare and more about the enclosed we often are. With the right conditions and time, these flowers that remind us of love open up to reveal a beauty more free and vibrant than when we first encounter them... much like our hearts.
We bloom where we feel most free. Love does not grow, does not flourish by force or threat. Our hearts do not know true, deep, intimate love with another if we do not feel we can fully be ourselves. Free places are where our hearts thrive, as they were meant to, where they long and were made to be.
I had dated this guy who was working as a cook. He knew what he was doing since, I mean, he did it pretty much every day. However, whenever it came to me cooking around him or with him, even with friends and family, I would immediately tense up, knowing that he would find a way to change the way I did things to be more like how he did it or ask me why I did this or that a certain way. I quickly began to dislike cooking, something I had loved doing in the freedom of my own company, sadly, because of the anxiety it began to give me. Not that this person necessarily meant any harm by it, but it was this in addition to other matters of the sort that made me not feel free to truly be me-- the person I was long before they ever came around and long after they were gone. And I bet I probably did the same thing to him in a different area. This is just a small example but you get the point and I bet you have a story that relates.
We tend to put the mold of what we want on the people we love. Even in asking them who they are and what they like, we tend to already have this idea in our imaginations of what this person is to us or will be to us rather than simply letting them be-- not trying to bend them to our molds. I'm guilty of this, anyone else? But this way of "loving" is no room to bloom and most certainly leaves no room to grow. In our earthly relationships, we tend to try in one way or another to put our expectations on one another, our standards and ways on them when they are simply a unique individual soul, just like you are. This kind of force-love causes us to close up and close others out. They can see the pretty outside petals of our hearts, but to see us bloom? Pshhh, yeah right, forget it.
Even the most loving of earthly lovers will do this to us and vise-versa at one point or another. But there is One who takes us as we are and transforms us to be the very essence of who we were originally created-- the core of our being. Only One who loves us without conditions and cookie-cutter molds.
We look for ourselves in the arms of earthly lovers and lose ourselves in what they want us to be and become further confused about our identity in this searching. But there is one Lover you can look for yourself in over and over and find out who you are. That is because this one Love, this wild, free, perfect loving Lover is the very Soul which created our own.
How cool is that?
I didn't realize that I didn't know my identity until I felt I had no one else to try finding myself in. And when I came here, to the very end of myself, that's when I found this Wild Lover, opening His arms, inviting me in to sort it all out, showing me what is and what isn't. Confirming and affirming the titles I bestow and annihilating the terrible ones that I for so painfully long claimed. He gives you the same sweet invitation, friend. But it is not forced-- no... God is a gentleman and a genuine Lover, inviting us in, knowing full well that we may reject Him. Yet still, He waits, like an open field of wildflowers, a thick forest wood of mystery and adventure... He invites us in to be so free and unashamed.
And as we let go of our bundled up petals, we bloom, opening up with His love-- so beautiful and without any tension, pressure, or force. God, the Wild Lover, shows us how to simply be who He made us. He doesn't force anything on us, doesn't leash us or hold us captive--no... He shows us, if we desire to listen, how to live in ultimate freedom.
In C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, one character says to another about the lion Aslan, "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” And, as I believe I recall, Lucy replies, "But He is good".
As is our Creator God. Not only is He wild in the freedom He gives us and in the way He loves us, but He, Himself, is untamable in who He is, therefore there is no mold which we could put on Him that would ever fit-- He is far, far greater. Untamable, but so very, very good.
There is a place of freedom for you, child. A place where your heart and soul can bloom to full, stretching your petals as far as they can reach. And it's also a place where you do not have to be alone... a place you are able to roam and dance and let your heart skip about recklessly. There is a place for you to rest and simply be with the Wild Lover, our God and King.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:1-2