The dictionary tells us that to grow is “to spring up and develop into maturity”. I’m becoming intimately acquainted with this process recently, because in our superb wisdom we went ahead and got a puppy. Now if you would like to sit at the feet of wise sages who make super well thought out decisions like that, just wait for Matt and my’s upcoming webinar entitled “Why Choose Peace When You Could Still Yell At Stuff.”™
As this sweet puppy grows I have been reminded of how intense the process is. There are not a whole lot of things Ruby knows that we did not in fact teach her. At first it was kind of endearing that she knew next to nothing and we delighted in our new role as puppy family to teach her the ropes. You pee here and you jump and play chase here. You chew on this and not our littlest’s favorite possession of all time that she can in no way sleep without. There was even joy in the process. Then a few weeks in I realized that I felt fairly housebound and I was having flashbacks and a bit of Mom PTSD remembering how you cocoon after having a baby and how alien it is to reemerge into the light once the newborn stage passes. Not wanting to be homebound, I wanted Ruby to just know stuff. I wanted her to know where and when she could go to the bathroom. I wanted her to know what would bring life and what would bring pain (after being told once) and I became “over” the process. I just wanted the old dog that laid at your feet and gave you unconditional love without all the drama.
It took me about two seconds to realize that this is how I deal with a majority of life. I get easily frustrated with my children, my husband, and by extension everyone around me when my life becomes inconvenienced by a learning process becoming longer than is naturally comfortable for me. But let’s look back at our definition- “to spring up and develop into maturity.” What an Instagram definition! We want all that health and bright green new growth to just spring up like an over-eager high school cheerleader and immediately develop into maturity. We take the pic of the growth, add a filter of immediate maturity and Post. That. Junk.
The problem is that growth begins far far earlier when the seed, the tiny hardened speck of a promise goes down deep into the darkness and trusts that this phase of the process is not the end. There is watering and there is light shining and preparing both the seed and it’s environment for the maximum health and growth. And then you know what happens? The seed splits. What has been the life it has known for the entirety of its existence is shed and it begins to reach for the light. It pushes through the surroundings that have always been considered home and it reaches with all of its might toward what seems to be more appropriate for who it needs to become next. It pushes, strains, and works for its maturity. It trusts, hopes, and labors to reach for the light even though it is still surrounded by darkness. That seed is a badass and I’d like to be her when I grow up.
Ruby and I had a really hard day last week. She hadn’t had an accident for a week and a half and then in one day she peed on multiple rugs 4 different times in one hour. She would pee and I’d race her outside and nothing would seemingly be left. Then a few minutes later she’d pee on the rug and I’d race her out. At this point I got super frustrated and I yelled and that made her pee on a different rug. So I took her out and no pee. I brought her back in and started cleaning the new spot and she peed on the rug behind me.
It was at that moment that I realized I was standing above where I had planted that seed just screaming at it to grow.
This is not the environment that makes the seed, puppy, or human want to reach up and emerge into the light. Admittedly, this is how I have dealt with myself and others. If the growth process makes my life more difficult than I see fit then I just begin being toxic.
Growth takes time, the right environment, and for the seed to split. Let us not only tolerate growth but patiently embrace it in one another and ourselves. Ruby and I had to sit down and crawl into each other’s lap and cry a bit and remember that we were both still learning and we apologized to each other and reminded ourselves that we were shooting for walking towards maturity and not just slapping a filter on the growth but allowing it room and space to reach for the light. My hope and my prayer is that we will do the same. That we will sit and allow ourselves the grace to be terrified at this new thing that is being done in us, but that we will still crack open and see what emerges. Courage is not a lack of fear but strength to step while still frightened and trusting there is beauty, grace, progress and maturity on the other side of the breaking. Nobody walks towards the yelling. Nobody reaches for the toxic. Let us be gentle with ourselves and those around us as we labor to spring up and develop into maturity. Otherwise there is pee everywhere… trust me.