Being Perplexed about the Petunia Philosophy

Do you enjoy flowers, Dear Reader? “My girls,” as I call them, bring me much pleasure and satisfaction. They  also teach me a great deal about life, like the petunia philosophy. Does that sound a bit crazy?

Petunias don’t rise to the top of my list of annual favs. Yes, they are cheap and withstand heat, but they can be little divas. Thank goodness for their vibrant colors and pristine whites, otherwise the whole “deadheading” portion of their care would block their admittance to my girls’ club.

Deadheading can be a weirdly satisfying process, but those faded blooms are sticky, a.k.a. yucky to this gal. Sorry, Dear Reader, but there’s a reason I don’t eat fried chicken in a restaurant or apples in public: Miss Prissy Britches doesn’t like getting the least bit messy. (Go ahead, laugh or judge, it’s way too late in life to override that little piece of eccentricity.)

Take a look at the dried up bloom in the blue circle. She’s on the downhill slide and ready to be plucked off so new blooms can blossom: the petunia philosophy.

In other words, get rid of the old to make way for the new. Hmmm. . . Sounds familiar, kind of Scriptural. Yep, there it is, right there in one of Paul’s letters.

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone—and see—a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV

When I go out to check on my girls in the morning, our small world is sweetly quiet. It’s a time of peace and blessing to gently touch their little faces and coo to them. (Yes, I said “coo.”) It’s a time of thought and reflection, too.

Maybe it’s my recent birthday or the culture we currently live in. Either way, recently while deadheading the petunias I realized how the petunia philosophy plays a part in our world. Hold on tight, Dear Reader, this is fixing to get a little deep and existential.

Do you remember back in the day, Dear Reader, when companies could legally enforce mandatory retirement on employees? Way back in the early 1970s, things were hot and popping on so many fronts.

I remember arguing with Daddy back then about why politicians were the only people who didn’t have to worry about mandatory retirement while others had to yield to the petunia philosophy.

Meanwhile Mama made me do my candy-striping hours at the senior care center where she loved taking care of elders. Me, not so much. (Especially when my two besties were doing time at a hospital equipped with cute and flirty interns.) 

Anyway, I did alright until Mama gave me the low-down one of my favorite patients, Mrs. Clagett. Her chart included a directive from  her son that she was to receive no intervention if her health began to fail. I can still see her lovely face the last time I saw her. I was mortified and disillusioned once again by the petunia philosophy. 

I’ve experienced, and truly understand, what God’s Word says about becoming a new creation. And I’m really thankful the ADEA now protects citizens from being forced to retire based solely on their age. 

Still . . . sometimes it seems like the petunia philosophy is alive and well. 

Has anyone else out there had interactions lately when the words/actions of others made you feel like you’re no longer of any use or value? No? What about media inferences

I am your God and will take care of you
    until you are old and your hair is gray.
I made you and will care for you;
    I will give you help and rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4 GNT

Right in the middle of a peaceful morning reflection among the flowers I love, the petunia philosophy of “old should be eliminated” threatened to drag me into a dark hole of self-pity.

Dear Reader, it’s taken me decades to figure out when that happens the best thing for me to do is go straight back to God’s Word.

Those that are planted in the house of the Lord
    shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age;
    they shall be filled with vitality and foliage . . . 

Psalm 92:13-14 MEV       

A growing reliance on God’s Word has also taught me neither His whole story nor His entire bank of hopeful promises are necessarily housed in one scripture. (Of course there are notable exceptions, such as John 3:16.) There are times when it takes a bit of searching and study to connect the dots.

When I read Isaiah’s words I was comforted, but not entirely encouraged. I don’t want to “grow old gracefully.” Petunias fade and quietly lose their beauty. The petunia philosophy is not one I want to embrace with my life or the lives of those dearest to me.

And according to God’s promise recorded by the psalmist, I don’t have to . . . and neither do you!

My parents each died at the tender age of 71. Before I was 50 I began to tell my doctors that wasn’t for me because I have too much left to do and live for. More than few years later, the same is still true.


One of the things I love about living is God’s sense of humor. In the last year He has brought a very dear and sweet new friend into my life; she turned 96 in January. So much for not being an old person, person! 

Recently she regaled a visiting chaplain by playing the guitar, then the banjo and singing. Is that great or what? She’s leaning into the promises of God’s Word and definitely not giving into the petunia philosophy. I want to be just like her when I grow up!

What about you, Dear Reader? Is there someone in your world the Lord has sent as role model to inspire or motivate you in some way? Prayers and blessings on both of you as your lives overlap, interwine, and grow together!

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