Making Space To Flourish

I gathered a group of seven friends at my table for lunch. We are all women leaders who serve at churches and ministries across the city. These women challenge me, pray over me, and inspire me. I arranged a small bouquet of barely-opening daffodils at each of their plates. I encouraged them to take these home and put them in water as a reminder to “Bloom where you are planted.”
A few days later, I started getting text messages from my friends – pictures of their bright yellow flowers blooming. One friend had put hers in a mason jar. Another added hers to a vase tied with raffia. Another had used her daffodils to dress up her table’s centerpiece and added greenery.
The final photo I received was of a bud vase stuffed full with daffodils. The flowers were limp, shriveled at the ends, floundering. My friend sent the following text with her photo:
“Life lesson: Don’t stifle your growth by putting yourself or your dreams in a too-small vase.”
The visual was profound for me – for all of us. I was sitting in a season where I heard God whispering that I needed to step back. I needed to create margin for myself. I needed to devote more time to my three daughters. I just got married in January and found myself in a new marriage and a new family context after the death of my first husband. I also saw that God was beginning to use my story of tragedy and triumph to encourage others.
My husband had gently and wisely told me: “If you don’t say no to some commitments now, you will not have space in the future to step into the big things I believe God is calling you to.”
I hemmed. I hawed. I squirmed at his words.
I knew he was right. His voice resonated with what God was already telling me. If I really wanted to flourish in my calling, I needed to prune back some of the commitments I had – even the things I most loved.
I took my own bundle of daffodils and put them in the biggest, widest glass vase I could find – a wedding gift from a Mentor Friend at MOPS. That vase full of water and space and vibrant, yellow flowers was a daily reminder to me about what I need to truly flourish: space to hear God, space to grow, space to add new and different flowers when the time arises.
This year I’ve been truly challenged by our MOPS theme: A Fierce Flourishing. From the start, I was struck by the paradox a “fierce flourishing” proposes we embrace. The word “fierce” is a trending word that has come to mean “exceptional quality, amazing, beautiful, sassy, strong and bold” in our American culture. The word “flourish” is a verb that means “to thrive; to be in one’s prime; to be at the height of fame, excellence, influence; to grow luxuriantly like a plant.” These definitions speak to me about not just surviving, but actually embracing, enjoying, thriving in this calling God has for each us. That’s unique for each mama, each woman.
This year I have learned that I need to make boundaries for myself. I am a high-capacity, “yes” person. I love to multi-task. I love to be involved in a lot of different areas, and I feel loyal to a lot of groups of people. I have learned that I sometimes I need to be a “no” person for the sake of my family. I don’t need to fill every square on the calendar. I need emotional space to breathe and write and take care of my soul. 
In his book Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch writes about flourishing:  “The paradox of flourishing is that true flourishing requires two things that at first do not seem to go together at all. But in fact, if you do not have both, you do not have flourishing, and you do not create it for others. Here’s the paradox: flourishing comes from being both strong and weak.”
God has shown me as the Coordinator of MOPS that I must embrace both my strengths and weaknesses. And the more I am willing to live this paradox out loud, the more other women feel freedom to step into their respective callings.
“Flourishing requires us to embrace both authority and vulnerability, both capacity and frailty – even at last in this broken world, both life and death,” writes Crouch.
In my time at MOPS, I have had the chance to embrace all of these things. I have participated in MOPS and led for almost 10 years now. That feels like a big chunk of my life. There’s a certain sadness in walking away from something that feels so integral to my development, but I also see that my obedience to say “no” to another year of leading gives another woman the opportunity to say “yes” and step up into her calling. And this is what pruning is all about.
I’m so excited to watch this group grow and flourish in the months and years to come. I am clinging to the encouraging and apropos words of our theme verse in Isaiah 55:12:

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Dorina Gilmore-Young is a mama to three active girls and recently married to her long-time friend, Shawn Young. She has written three books for children, a volume of poetry and blogs at www.DorinaGilmore.com. She is the author of a new 10-week bible study experience called Glory Chasers.

About Dorina Gilmore

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and then was transplanted to Central California after college. I'm officially a California girl now. My husband died of melanoma cancer in 2014, but in God's wild grace He brought my new husband Shawn to redeem our family. I have three daughters. When I'm not writing or speaking, I'm trail running, knitting or chasing sunsets at the ocean. My passion is helping people navigate grief and discover God's glory in the process.

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