The phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” gets thrown around a lot. Many think it originated from the Bible, and others know this isn’t true.
The sentiment can be found in Scripture, but not the exact words. An American graphic artist and illustrator made the phrase famous with her book, Mary Englebreit: The Art and the Artist, but she didn’t originate the phrase. An American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey used the phrase a decade before Mary’s book, yet he was not the originator of it either.
So, where did it come from?
“Bloom Where You Are Planted” has a similar origin to the Celtic Cross — we only know some things and cannot confirm others.
What Does “Bloom Where You Are Planted” Mean?
“Bloom Where You Are Planted” can mean various things depending on its usage.
- To be fruitful, blossom, become all you were created to be.
- Make the best of what you have when life throws lemons at you.
- Do what’s right, even when it’s hard.
Each has their place and even corresponding Scripture, which I’ll elaborate on.
1. Be Fruitful
Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), when he was the Bishop of Geneva is recorded as saying this:
“Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.” (emphasis mine)
As you can see, it’s not a direct quote of the idiom but carries its meaning.
I believe the words of St. Francis de Sales were inspired by words in the Bible. In the book of Genesis. After God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them and told them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28).
Another Scripture describes a believer’s fruitful flourishing by trusting in God.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Scripture and other writings such as these encourage us to be all God has made us to be.
2. Make the Best of Life
Using the phrase in this way encourages resilience. Sometimes life is hard. Things don’t always go according to plan. Even in less than wonderful situations, we have control over how we respond. Blooming where we are planted is to make the choice to respond in a positive manner. It’s in agreement with another familiar phrase about making lemonade when life throws you lemons.
When many Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they were in a less than wonderful situation. But God told them, in a way, to bloom where they were planted for that time.
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
3. Do What’s Right
Doing what’s right when it’s hard is — hard. Perhaps that’s why Paul gives this instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 20-24, which is another place we find the sentiment of blooming where we are planted.
This passage does not sanction human slavery, especially in the way slavery was practiced in the West during the 17th-19th centuries. Instead, this passage is a call to honor God above men.
“Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Corinthians 7:20-24).
“Bloom Where You Are Planted” Doesn’t Mean to Stay Stuck
Blooming where you are planted doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself or must stay stuck in an awful place. Let me remind you of the line above, “if you can gain your freedom, do so” (vs. 21). The Bible is full of words encouraging us to grow and change.
There are times to bloom where we are planted, and times for us to be transplanted so we can bloom even better elsewhere. Just follow the Lord where he leads.
The sentiment of the phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has been around for centuries, but the first publication of the exact phrase cannot be verified.
Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author. Her works include: Emerging With Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, And The LOVE that Heals, A Bird Named Payn, and Love’s Manifesto. Her new book Because You Matter: How to Take Ownership of Your Life so You Can Really Live will be released fall 2019. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/
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