When she’s ready

A dear friend of mine told me a story that’s stuck with me weeks after I first heard it. It involved a mom whose daughter was asked why she wasn’t performing as well as her siblings had.  A fun, light-hearted, bright girl, she relished life and was the joy of everyone, except apparently, those who thought she should be doing more.  Wisely, the mother announced, “She’ll bloom when she’s ready.”  Years later, bloom she did and she fit right in with her accomplished siblings.

I have spent my life surrounded by people who are in various stages of maturation, myself included.  Growing up, even though I was the second born and three years behind my older brother, oodles of people thought I was the oldest.  Either I behaved older than my age or he, er, didn’t behave his age.  No matter, we both turned out just fine.

It’s fascinating to see how God matures us.  For some, it comes steadily, following what human development specialists would label ‘normal’.  For others, they experience spurts and stalls as they navigate life.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that when I was in college, I was an emotional kindergartner and now, I feel like I’m having teenage pangs sometimes.  So, is that odd?  Maybe.  I don’t really care though.  I think it’s fun to run around chasing little kids.  It’s fun to talk to teenagers who think they’ve got the world cornered.  It’s also fun to tell my 60 year friend about some internet tricks.  Whatever it is, it feeds me and adds another piece to my puzzle.

But golly, I can confuse myself.  Why do I think that, say that, wish that?  If I had my way, I’d be done blooming and just be fragrant.  That’s not always the case.  However, I’m so thankful that He’s picked my growth pace.  I wonder about it sometimes, but I also trust Him.  When I’m impatient with myself & wonder why I’m not performing like my ‘siblings’, I have to focus maybe just on the gifts of pretty petals or the great soil in which I’m planted.  And maybe He’s the one who has to reassure me that I’ll bloom when He tells me I’m ready.



Apathy never

I remember it clearly: German class was about to start and Mr. Ter Haar was walking down the hallway.  His room was at one end of the building and the teacher’s lounge at the other.  As we waited for him, there was plenty of time for the class instigator to do his work.  While his friends kept watch from the door, Dave commandeered the chalk and in large block letters wrote: Apathy Now!!

As Dave slid innocently into his seat, Mr. Ter Haar strode in and took in the message.  Wow, did the guy explode!!  I bet more than half the class didn’t know what apathy meant but boy did we get an idea.  I looked up the word later and understood why the teacher’s face got red and the veins on his neck became quite pronounced.  What he said, I don’t remember but the passion behind his words were indelible.

Now, as a teacher myself, I’ve had a few kids express apathy about the subject that I love.  I get it – not everyone has to get as excited as I do about English.  But one thing I insist on is at least being open to learning.  Helen Keller said that as soon as she learned the connection between words and her world, invisible lines stretched between [her] spirit and and the spirits of others.  Some of my students would roll their eyes at that, but think about it – when we care, we’re linked to so much more than just what our minds can conceive on their own.  As our knowledge grows, our fields of inquiry broadens and our curiosity is rewarded.

But more than that cerebral stuff is my firm belief that God’s world is so interesting, so intricate, so involved that it’s just rude to tell Him in any way that we’re not willing to learn anything more about what He’s made.  There’s a reason that older people say the more they grow, the less they know.  We can’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s knowable and that leaves in me in awe of my Creator.

So I’ll continue to learn about myself, read as many books as time and wakefulness allow, and be curious about the interests of others.  Currently I know someone who traps for furs, someone who is an old truck conossiuer and another who plays rugby.  I know precious little about any of those subjects, but I love the people and I love the One who never runs out of something to surprise and amaze me.  Apathy?  Seriously?  Who has time?  Mr. Ter Haar, I’ve forgotten much of the German you’ve taught me but your nemesis Dave was a co-conspirator in teaching me one of my greatest lessons.  Danke Schon!

Piles and smiles

Well, it happened.  I told my husband I hoped to avoid it, had planned on dealing with it but last night it happened, just as I thought it might.

Backstory:  last night we hosted a dinner party.  As a hostess, I feel confident in the food category, but am only gaining confidence in other aspects, like conversation and presenting a nice home.  Contrary to many in our lovely community,  we live in a humble home and because of health challenges, I can’t always physically do what I want to do to keep it the way I’d like to.   But on my list of things to get done before the party was a slim little area that had collected dust and dirt but I needed my husband to pull out an appliance to help me get to it.  The day went on, other needs emerged, food was made, lawn was mowed….doorbell rang.  Yes!  We love these people and were thrilled to have them over.  Then, my lovely friend stood at the perfect angle in which to see the Dreaded Dirt.  How do I know for sure she saw it?  Oh, she saw it all right.  Her eyes registered recognition, neither of us said anything and we moved on.

Ugh!!!  Two ideas fought for mind-time: she will never want to come here, especially to eat again….and, if she ever needed confirmation that I’m not perfect, she just got it.  Growing up, I didn’t know what dirt was until I went to other places outside our family.  Those Dutch mothers and aunts and grandmas kept impeccable homes and the men’s garages were no different.  It was a revelation when I saw things a little out of order.  Who does that?  Well, now I know: people who live normally, whose homes are used by people they love and by those who don’t kill themselves to keep up a facade.

We’ve all been to people’s homes who keep a certain door closed because that’s where all the stuff they didn’t have time to deal with has been tossed.  I remember the surprise and envy at the transparency of someone who confessed they toss items in their dryer and oven before people come over.  Then my personal favorite, “Let us know when you’re coming so we can make it look like we don’t live here.”  Awesome.

Last week when I dropped in on my friend who longs for a considerably more organized house, she said as she opened the door, “ignore my mess.”  There was a mess.  But what I saw was her smile, her daughter coming to hug me, a chair pulled out for me to sit and visit.  I would have gladly stuck my sleeves to syrup and kicked laundry out of the way to receive such a warm welcome.  In fact, I’m darn glad there was a mess because she showed me her true self.  She didn’t try to cover anything up, or impress me with a facade that would have meant an hour of stress before I came.  I’d rather see piles and smiles, thank you very much.

So hey world, I’m don’t keep a perfect house.  Although I opt for tidy and seem to constantly be doing something to clean something, if a student or friend calls and needs to talk, I’m there.  I’m glad you find much about which to compliment me, but what I’m working on within myself is presenting the true me: sometimes there’s dirt.  I don’t like it but when I think of those I love, I value that they let me see all sides of them.  And sometimes that means a little dirt.