Lessons In Growth

The tiny parsley stands awkward in the midst of the other vegetable plants in the garden – alongside the green bell peppers, tomato and cucumbers. Perhaps, the parsley has just been bought from the nursery garden center. Unfortunately, it was not. The parsley had been bought a couple of months ago along with the other ones that now tower over it. So what happened to it? Well, obviously the parsley had not been planted on the ground or in a bigger pot with more soil. Although it is being watered alongside the others and getting the same amount of sunshine, the parsley’s growth is stunted because it isn’t deeply rooted just like the others. Yes, it is still alive but it simply is just not growing at all!

Actually, it is my fault that the parsley is not growing. When I ran out of space in the little garden patch that my son and I created in our backyard, I said to myself I would transfer the parsley in a day or two to a bigger container the way I did to the tomato. Well that was more than two months ago. I got lazy and had been procrastinating transferring the parsley. So perhaps this evening I will do it.

What can we learn from this sad parsley episode? In life, we all grow in different aspects of our lives: physically, emotionally, mentally and most importantly spiritually.

When we see a young person, a child specifically, not growing normally for his age, we can conclude that it’s either that child has a special condition or illness that prevents him from growing normally just like his peers (provided that he does not suffer from parental neglect and thus is under-nourished).

Mentally, we see those we label as retarded: adults with the mental capacity of toddlers or young teen-agers. Perhaps, it is inborn or it might be due to illnesses they suffered in childhood. I had an uncle who died a long time ago when I was in elementary. He was severely mentally-retarded. They said he had meningitis when he was an infant and water got into his brain. My grandfather took care of him until my grandfather died when he was 80. Then my mother took over. Shortly after my grandfather died, my uncle died too, he became ill from something that I could not remember anymore. Of course it is not because my mother neglected him. I saw my mother took care of him and fed him. But they say when that someone you had been with for so long is gone, the other person who had been very close with the one that left seem to not have any reason any longer to live. Love birds are known for that kind of phenomenon. Very sad but it happens.

Emotionally, I myself had that sad situation where my emotional growth had been impeded due to an experience I had as a young adult – falling in love at a young age, getting heartbroken and not being able to overcome it for more than two decades, and due to the fact that those twenty long years had been a tumultuous one. I had to hold on to the memory of that young love so as to survive the hard situation I was in. I always kept in my mind that one day, my "knight-in-shining-armor" will come to rescue me, continually fantasizing about the romantic ideals of youth. You know, stuff that you see in the movies. My life had been the one that sad songs are made out of. I thought that’s how it should be when it comes to life or love. I was wrong. I thought that drama should always be a part of any relationships. I could not understand how some couples could just get along so well. Granted, there will always be disagreements. But two emotionally-matured adults should be able to come to a point where it isn’t important who is right and wrong but instead arrive at a decision that is mutually satisfying for both of them. That is how it should be. That is how it is in any successful and matured partnership.

Another aspect I unlearned is the idealizing of the other person and putting him/her on a pedestal – having the wrong impression that they could not do anything wrong. Well, guess what, they will! They always do. And when it happens, we feel disappointed – even disillusioned. Because just like any other human, they are imperfect beings too – not gods or goddesses in any Greek or Roman mythologies who will make everything alright for us. We mistakenly think that we will have that happily-ever-after kind of life once we are with them. It is that wrong mentality that many young people have when they enter into relationships, thinking that the other person will solve all their problems. However, more often than not, this new person adds to more problems and more stress.

Many of us outgrow this wrong thinking after a couple of failed relationships. Those are the emotionally healthy people. Sadly for some, they never grow into emotional maturity. Many still live in romantic fantasy. They idealize relationships and therefore either end with the wrong people or get disillusioned when they see something they do not like in the other person. These are the ones who jump from one failed relationship after another, many of them short-lived (some days, weeks or a few months). And there are those with desperate hearts and unable to exist without a romantic partner. They HAVE to have someone with them. They cannot be alone. They are afraid to be alone. These are the ones prone to the danger of attracting the wrong people who are as emotionally immature as themselves. And there are people out there who are manipulative and emotionally-dangerous.

Let us discuss about women and how we fail in relationships. Bad men can especially “sniff” women who are desperate to be in a relationship. There are women with low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Any attention or morsel of affection they get from any man is enough for them to fall into having unhealthy relationships with them. When those with low self-esteem do not have the strength and confidence to be alone and happy on their own, they become needy and clingy to the other person. They also become distrustful of their partners. They subconsciously think that because they are not good enough for anybody, they are not good enough for their partners and that one day, the partner will leave them again just like what the previous one did.

When lack of trust enters a relationship, its demise begins. It’s a classic case of the more you distrust, the more you cling. The more you cling, the more they want to get away from you. Then the relationship ends and you become heartbroken, feel used, unimportant and unloved. Hence adding to the low self-esteem you already have. Then you move on immediately to the next rebound relationship to put a temporary “band-aid” to soothe your heart’s boo-boo instead of waiting for your heartache to heal completely - only to repeat the cycle. This is true for both men and women.

I used to have the fear of being alone. Not that I jumped from one relationship to another but I was drowning in a sea of loneliness and desperation. Having had a partner since early adulthood, I had fear that I will not be able to attain happiness by being single. My happiness eggs were in one basket – the “you-have-to-be-in-a- relationship-to-be-happy” basket. I could not understand how some women can be alone for several years after a divorce or death of a partner, and live contentedly. Only when I do not have anyone in my life and prayed to God intensely to remove that sick longing in my heart I am able to finally feel the deep peace and contentment of being alone, and actually being happy.

You know what they say: that when you are not looking, that's when it comes. However, I am now in an emotional state where if it comes, it comes. But if it doesn't, it's fine too. Because this is when complete faith in God will come in - knowing that you can fully trust him that no matter what happens, He will take care of you.

Alas, I finally reached emotional maturity. It took two decades but I finally did – with God’s loving help, tender mercy, forgiveness for my wrong-doings and compassion.

I highly encourage any single woman (or man) to be alone for quite some time and learn to be happy even if they are alone. Heal your hearts. Nurture. pamper and educate yourselves. VALUE  yourselves. Be alone...and be happy.

Do not expect the happiness package to arrive along with the "man/woman of your dreams." Actually, there is no such thing because as we all know, we are all imperfect beings, with flaws and weaknesses.

Only by being happy and contented can you bring into the relationship table, joy that you can share with that special someone - who should also be as happy (and healed if necessary) as you are. A happy person is not a miserable person. A miserable person magnifies every single weakness and flaw that the other person has - mainly due to his/her own insecurities. A happy person overlooks such timy flaws. A happy person has the forgiving characteristic of God - and thus truly mirrors the image of the One who created him.

The final aspect of growth that I will discuss here (and the most important) is spiritual growth. The greatest analogy we can use is found in God’s Word the Bible. Many of us have heard of the “Parable of the Seed” where Jesus Christ talked about a sower who has sown seeds on four different grounds.

To Be Continued.....

The Greatest Hope

And He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4

Coming Up!

Suicide, "Ambush (The Killing Fields)", Obsessions, Security for Our Day (Part II)

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