Last night while hanging out with a group of friends we starting talking ages. Who was the oldest. Who was the baby. It made me feel old and unaccomplished just as a previous conversation I had with a man who was a father, manager, had a house, and was younger than me. The mental comparison games had begun.
When I was a girl my pastor’s wife gave me the book, Beautiful Girlhood. I read it cover-to-cover countless times wanting so desperately to be the woman that it described. Here are some gems from the book that had stuck in my memory for years.
“Childhood holds it promises, womanhood its fulfillment, those golden days of girlhood the transition.”
“…do you remember that lily that blossomed here in the window so early this spring?”
“Yes, but it is dead now. It seemed to give its whole strength o make that one blossom. It looked pretty then but really those that blossomed later at the proper time were prettier,” said Mary.
“That is just what I wanted you to remember. That lily was pretty, but it was forced along too fast, blossomed before it time, and died. That is the way with many girls. They blossom before their time. I want my daughter to come to her full, mature beauty.”
“A thing of beauty is a rose in full boom. What please to hold in the hand a perfect rose and admire its soft, velvety petals, to smell its rich fragrance, and to feast upon its beauty of coloring! One would be tempted to say, “In this Nature has done her best.” For Nature, and the God of Nature, gives us many beautiful and glorious things.”
“Have you ever watched the development of a rose from the tiny bud to the open flower? The bud holds little more promise of beauty than the foliage about it; but day by day it grows until it is full and round. One day you see a thread of color, promise of the rose to come, peeping through the covering of green. Each morning the thread of color widens until the bud bursts asunder and the flower is revealed, You look upon the bursting bud with admiration and delight, though yet you do not see the rose in it full size and beauty. You have to wait until it is full grown and fully open, til it has reached its maturity, before you can behold the complete flower. But in the opening blossom the beauty of the mature rose is blended with the grace and charm of the bud.”
I held fast to these words as I was over protected by my parents, not allowed to grow up too fast, and physically did not develop until later on. As I watched my friends get jobs, boyfriends, and do things I was never allowed or able to do I held tight to the fact that I was a sweet rose waiting the proper time to blossom. Knowing that now everyone blossomed at the same time. Not everyone reached their peak of beauty at the same age. That some were pushing it too quickly and would soon fade. Somewhere around 16 or 17, these dear words slipped from my mind as life tragedy threw it self at me head on and the rose bud was not allowed to blossom in a sheltered greenhouse anymore.
I wonder, as I roll around words from last nights conversation, if these principles I clung to as a young girl can be applied to my life now. Not everyone reaches their peak of beauty (or life) at the same age. Sometimes we push it too soon and it fades. I often am saddened when people younger than me have children, beautiful homes, great careers, large ministries, books published, huge accomplishments, or simply what society portrays as someone their age to have and be. What about me? Did I miss the boat? Did I bloom too early and this is all I get? Will others look down on me? Do I look down on myself?
Unfortunately we compare ourselves with our peers just as much when we are 30 as when we are 13. We are looking around the garden envious of the Tulip that has bloomed when we are Queen Ann’s Lace. (A Tulip is a spring flower. Queen Ann’s Lace if an autumn flower. It isn’t your season yet) Where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be in your growth process. Be happy for that younger couple with the kids. For the single woman with the great career. For the young pastor and his wife. For the kids just out of high school who have a house. It wasn’t your fate. It wasn’t your time. Don’t force the blossom. Let it happen naturally.