I love honeysuckle. As a child I sipped the ‘honey” from the blossoms and wove the flowers around my head in summer crowns. When my daughters were little I showed them the joys of honeysuckle too, and if on a walk or drive we saw some, often stopped to collect a fragrant bouquet. When I worked twelve hour shifts in the Emergency Department, I carried blooming branches in with me to remind me of the summer day outside. Even now, I love to sit on the deck in the evening, enjoying the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle floating in the breeze while crickets chirp their summer song and stars shine gently overhead.
When we first moved into our house, I was determined to surround it with honeysuckle. I bought some tiny plants from the local feed store. When I feared I didn’t have enough, I literally dug it up from alongside our country road. My neighbor, Charlie, laughed and thanked me for weeding the neighborhood. I planted it on the patio, around the deck, outside the basement doors, and especially outside the bedroom window. Gradually it began to envelop us, and I reminded my family regularly how much I loved it. I wanted them to think of me whenever they smelled it. I envisioned my daughters as old ladies in their porch rockers, reminiscing about me whenever the honeysuckle caught their attention.
Fast-forward, some 15 years later, three short months after Neil died. Gina, our oldest, came home for a visit, and brought a friend. We sat outside together for a while and talked, but it was hot and the sun was bright, so I went inside before them. Bits and pieces of their conversation drifted in through the open window. As they were coming up the steps from the patio, I heard Gina say, “Oh, that honeysuckle smell so good. It takes me back to my childhood and all the fun we had.”
When she came in I said,” Isn’t that honeysuckle beautiful? It’s my favorite smell.”
“I know that mom,” she answered. “Remember how we used to stop and smell and taste it whenever we saw it on the side of the road? That’s why it reminds me of being a kid.”
For a few seconds, selfish Colleen thought: It wasn’t supposed to make you think of your childhood, it was supposed to make you think of me!
Smarter Colleen replied: But this is even better – it makes her think of you and all the other things that made our family life special!
Hmm, maybe you’re right, selfish Colleen considered.
Looking at it that way, I was able to see the blessing. I didn’t really want the honeysuckle to make Gina think only of me. I wanted it to make her to think of our life together and our family and all the love and joy we shared. I wanted her to think of Neil and of herself as a laughing, happy child. God had taken my rather egotistical plan, and made it into something much better.
So often that happens! God’s designs and plans for us are infinitely better than our own. How many things can you think of that didn’t go the way you intended, only to have something far better occur instead? If you are like me, there will be quite a few! I can almost hear God saying, “Colleen, could you just move over and let me work?”
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Thank you, God, for honeysuckle and all the plans you have for me.