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Seasons of Struggle

“I’m thankful for my struggle, because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” ~ Alex Elle

An abundance of sunflowers in our neighborhood inspired me this summer to plant some too. The seed packet indicated they would germinate quickly, but they didn’t. After two weeks I turned the soil over and planted another packet. Still, only two plants emerged.

My hunch that squirrels or birds were scampering away with the seed treats was confirmed when I noticed a scrawny sunflower across our yard near a pine tree, hidden from the sun. At first, Its leaves were curled and dry, its face hung. Although this kidnapped seed landed in less than hospitable soil, each day it has grown stronger, its face tilting toward the sun.

A trip to the mailbox has become an opportunity to pass by the plant and celebrate its progress. The summer weather has been challenging; record breaking heat and frequent thunderstorms have taken down branches nearby. But the storms seem to have made this little sunflower stronger. It stands straighter now, and a second bloom has joined the first. Though it is not as robust as the two privileged plants across the yard which are bursting with blooms, it has a certain strength of character. It is a simple example that hardship can build strength.

There are seasons in our life when we too find ourselves struggling. Maybe our climate is not hospitable, or we feel elements bearing down on us. But like this sunflower, challenges can shape and strengthen us. Turning toward our source can sustain us during difficult days. And the qualities we develop in response to struggle help us flourish throughout our life.

Think back over the seasons in your life so far, which have been most challenging? Can you identify the positive traits or characteristics you developed in weathering that season? Sometimes sharing those experiences and take-aways with someone can help us feel gratitude for the whole of our life.

Like flowers who land in places we didn’t expect, adversity can eventually help us stand stronger. Showing our full face to the world, in all its radiance.

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