I love plants. I love watching things grow. If my husband would be comfortable in a home with green absolutely everywhere, I'd grow even veggies and herbs inside, since our climate would not permit the growing of things outdoors much of the year. Maybe one day when we finally get to build our house we'll have the "greenhouse" space we've planned for in a towering bay for my little jungle, as my sister most affectionately calls it. ;) She even helped me name all my plants!
But as I care for them, I am awed. Just at the way they spring to life, go dormant, and even die. Yes, completely dry out and die, just to sprout again in the spring - some of them. The process always reminds me of God. The great One who's planned the cycle out perfectly.
Last week, I severed two hearty branches from a strong Dracaena I have in the corner of my living room. I have pruned this plant many times, and transplanted its offspring in various new pots. But this time, she was nearly six feet tall and bending at the weight of her lofty crown. Something had to be done. Nothing short of whacking off her glory, and allowing her sprouts to flourish. A sacrifice for the greater good. I had no extra pots, so I took the high branches outside. I wonder if they will survive - regardless, they are remnants of growth in a life. And these events reminded me of my story.
Those college days were days of dissecting, dividing, parting, and disconnecting everything I had ever known. Parts of me which I thought were essential were severed and gone. Remnants left behind me that I had once lived there, to survive or to die, regardless - I had once lived there. I was uprooted and gone now.
As any college freshman, I was excited, scared, ambitious, and emotional. Things were new and different, and that was okay. I could handle them - I was an adult after all, right? I don't know if the details of some parts of this journey are worth delving into, but I can say that I am grateful for the lessons learned.
Two weeks into my newfound journey I met a boy. We were just kids, and as I look back I'm astonished that we even took ourselves seriously, much less expected anyone else to! But that's not my point here. One day I was with my roommate and we were just in a group introducing ourselves to another group of guys and girls. Everything informal, like it should be. No expectations. I remember that chance meeting, but I don't remember the boy specifically. He tells me he was part of that group, and I believe him. ;)
I started to enjoy college. I wasn't new to the world of going to school and working, but now the classes were a little more demanding. I began to get the hang of it, and even started to go out on dates here and there, always casual. A concept the "boy" didn't quite grasp. He's kind of the all-or-nothing type, which balances me well, I guess. Since I worked on campus for the dining hall, I soon met the boy named George for real. That, I remember. ;) Not allowed to work off campus because he was only in the country on a student visa, we became colleagues. For some reason our work schedules began to coincide quite often. Our group of friends would hang out more and more often, and we'd always seem to get lost in long conversations.
His stories intrigued me. Happenings of life under Communism in an Eastern European country were things I had only ever read about. Hours and hours we'd sit in our "group" and study, play, and talk - as if no one else in the world existed. He began to give me dating advice. You see, I was casually dating two different guys. Some people don't agree with that concept, but it worked for me. I wasn't the type to just give my heart away, and I wanted to know more about any guy I'd consider getting close to. So, saying yes to a date from one or 20 guys didn't seem despicable to me. They knew - the whole campus knew, and I was not about to settle down early! ;) Life was about going forward and not thinking about commitment yet!
George would tell me this or that about his dating ideas, and would mention which guy would be more suited for me, etc.
Until one day.
It was almost the end of the year. He asked if he could share a burger with me after church on Sunday night. I accepted.
I didn't realize it'd just be the two of us this time. He had gone to pick up some fast-food and we met in the little cafe on campus. We sat enjoying the food and laughing when things suddenly got serious. He looked at me and said "You know, I've decided something. I'd like to put my name in as a contender in this competition". At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. He continued: "I've been told not to tell you I love you, so I'm not going to do that, I'm just going to ask you if you'd consider me in this competition."
Woah. Hang on a sec. Competition? "There is no competition", I explained. "I'm not giving my heart away to anyone, and I don't want things to change right now. I love our friendship." Uh-oh, I'd gone and said it - the dreaded word, friendship. I think it's the most beautiful word a couple can share, but to a 19 year old guy, it's a death sentence. Death to his hopes of competing. And I didn't like that word either. No competition.
Well, he took that little explanation to mean that between him and the other guys, there's no competition. He'd never win.
Almost a week passed and it was graduation day. We went and watched the graduating seniors march their way across the platform, receive their diplomas, and prepare for a life after their long journey of preparation. The next morning, we were all to leave. George walked me to the parking lot and told me that he was giving me his address in Europe and that if I wanted to contact him, it'd be my choice, but that he'd not bother me again with his requests.
He said goodbye, and walked away.