If you were to take a little seed, no matter how many times you will it to be a tree in a given day, a tiny speck of matter it would remain. You see, the period of growth, attention, and care from both man and nature required to transform that little seed into a big tall tree doesn’t consist of seconds, minutes, or even weeks.
For a seed to grow into a tree, you must wait patiently as the earth takes its course around the sun more times than you can count with your fingers. Only after years of waiting will you be able to curl up under the shade of mighty branches, birthed out of sunshine and rain and seasons that seemed to be on endless repeat.
In our microwaveable, instantly-google-it lives, patience is something that must be cultivated, a discipline we must intentionally subject ourselves to. It does not come easily. This hastiness peaks through almost every corner of our lives, but no where does it glare its contorted expectation more than in our relationships with others.
I met Mulch when he was fifteen years old. He was just that; a teenager (as was I). But he made me giggle like no one else and would sit outside my car at our high school and talk to me for hours about life and my dreams and the world as my feet dangled outside the door and I spoke with the seriousness and fervor that only a teenage girl could deliver. He took me seriously and loved me in my youthful exuberance.
When we began dating, I had a lot of expectations for him; some from myself, and others from the world around me. I, on my high and mighty horse, knew where he needed to improve and grow-up. Yes, me–who too was only a kid and had a lot of growing up to do. It took me a while to see the irony.
I think there is something about ladies that allows us to see what’s possible, and pushes us to nurture that possibility to creation (not that fellows can’t do the same). We see the seed, and often we think that with enough encouragement and hard work, a tree will be unveiled before our eyes in only a matter of moments. But life doesn’t work that way; our encouragement will turn to nagging when we set ourselves up for that kind of instant-expectation, and our hard work will amount to disappointment.
Mulch and I have been together for 8 years. In that time, I’ve talked to a lot of girls in the tumultuous throes of the dating world. Sometimes when we sit together, chatting about life, I get a glimpse of that frustration in their eyes, the same one that sometimes glimmers in mine. “He just needs to grow up,” or, “I’m just not sure if he’s adult enough.” Okay, they may not say those very words–but their fears speak that loud and clear. They say lots of other things to basically say this one thing; the boy I like is 22, but I want him to live and act like a 32 year old.
The truth is, I am not who I will be; I am 25 and have a whole lot of life to live. Disappointment will temper my attitude and deepen my joys; new frontiers of love and adventure will open up to me in the years to come. I am not who I will be, and nor is he. When we faced each other at the altar four-going-on-five years ago, we stood as two kids that didn’t know much other than we loved each other and wanted to grow up together.
And grow up we have, and grow up we will. In any kind of relationship, it’s good to remember that we are always a work in progress, and to expect something perfect and finished will only leave us disappointed. We all need people to believe in us, to see our possibilities, and patiently nurture the ones that are meant to be into reality. Don’t commit yourself only to a vision of who you imagine someone to be; commit yourself to them, in the moment, with anticipation of all the new heights of growth and maturity that will come. Because we all need to keep growing.