This is a peony bush in my back yard.
This is his twin brother.
You may be thinking that for twins they really don't look much alike, and you aren't wrong. These two sweethearts came out of the same package of bulbs were planted on the same day, have received essentially identical watering and fertilizing, and the same amount of sun. They sit about five feet from each other in neighboring gardens in our yard.
Year after year, the plant on the left excels while the plant on the right struggles.
But this year it occurred to me that my garden was trying to teach me a lesson (it does this fairly often, but sometimes is a little too quiet and I miss the point).
I've seen this happen in the world around me and even (unfortunately) in my own life. We, as people with loads of potential and opportunity, are plopped into circumstances and are left with the choice to either grow and thrive or sit back stunted and struggling.
While we are often given encouragement and care, sometimes we put forth more effort, or better focus, or takes a leap of faith and in the end we blossom beautifully. But sometimes we sit back, we cower, we shy away from change, or we just plain don't feel like trying and the end result is much less impressive.
Honestly, the choice is up to us.
The end result of our works can shine brightly or barely twinkle, it is our choice.
Now, no one of us will be incredible every moment. Not every project will be a masterpiece, not every presentation will be flawless, not every motherly moment will end in hugs and smiles. That's just not the way life works. That's not what I'm saying.
But when we look back, if we have given it our best, pushed to the point of discomfort, and reached out just past what we THOUGHT was possible we will be amazed at the way we have bloomed.
And we will see just how beautiful we really are.
Because beauty isn't synonymous with perfection. Beauty is woven into the lines of every effort, every goal met, every push to improve. It is found in the roots and the stems that you don't even really see. It is found in the strength to keep going and the encouragement we give to others as we move on, even when things are hard.
At least, that's what my peonies tell me.