In February my son gave me a beautiful Orchid–the one above. The flowers were beautiful and in the middle of winter in Western NY, it was a breath of fresh air. I smiled every time I saw it. I catered to the flowers and having had one before, I knew how often to water it, using warm water, draining it well, keeping the house a little warmer to keep it alive, etc.
The end of May came, and the last little flower fell off. I whined loudly, “Oh no, it’s gone. Now I have to water a stick.”
I hadn’t succeeded the last time my orchid became a stick. I gave up watering it and gladly turned the stick over to a coworker who proudly showed me the flowers that bloomed not even six weeks later. I was devastated. So this time, I vowed I’d be patient and water my stick, pretending it was gorgeous, treating it like a treasure until I would be reward with blossoms.
Every Saturday, I drag my stick to the sink and after making sure the water is warm to the touch, but not too hot, I soak it, letting it drench before leaving it in the sink for an hour to drain appropriately before replacing it in the decorative container, once again putting my stick on display.
This past week it occurred to me as I was nurturing my stick…many situations in life are like watering a stick. The reward is small, or nonexistent. Persistence and faithfulness are required. The stick isn’t pleasing or pretty to the senses. No accolades or honor are given for your faithfulness, and compensation is distant. You slog through what is required, knowing you’ll be glad further down the road, but the drudgery wears on you.
I started thinking about all the situations that fit this. College came to mind. Many people spend four, six, or eight years (or longer) in college, and invariably the tediousness of assignments and the impossible demands overcome your determination and quitting seems to be the best viable option. But to those who stick it out, the reward is usually worth the time spent. The endless assignments with short deadlines, prepare you for your career and learning how to overcome those obstacles helps you stand firm in your career when overtime and ridiculous demands rise once again. Like watering a stick.
Waiting for a spouse … many people fall into this category. The work required to keep your relationship goals at the forefront, knowing what you want and not deviating from it can be like watering a stick. You feed your soul, read self-help books, invest in yourself and your character, preparing for what you hope will be a life long relationship and it can seem like a never-ending waiting game, wading through frog after frog after frog. However, the time invested in yourself won’t be wasted–it’s like watering a stick.
A newborn. Anyone with a newborn knows immediately what I’m talking about. You feed them every two hours (sometimes every hour) around the clock for weeks. The days and nights blur, you’re sleep deprived, frazzled, and completely worn out. The small fragile infant in your arms requires your care, nourishment, and love. The baby doesn’t smile or give any sign of thankfulness or even happiness most days–and as a mother, you feel like a human gas station with no reward. Like watering a stick. And then one night, in the peaceful dark house, you receive a crooked little grin and their body wiggles with their happiness. Your stick has blossomed, the blooms were worth the weeks of work.
Marriage. Many times there are weeks, months, or even years where it feels like all you do is water a stick. You go through the motions, doing what is necessary, but it doesn’t feel like it used to….the blossoms have fallen off. But if you diligently water and care for it, the season and time come where the reward flows and it was worth the “watering your stick” phase.
Jobs. How many of us have started a new job and felt all alone? No friends, you’re a foreigner in a foreign land. You eat alone, walk in alone, and you feel like a fool hourly while being trained. You quit your job sixteen times a day, but vow to stay until Friday, trying your best. Watering your stick. And one day, you find you have friends, you sit at a table laughing at lunch, you go out for drinks after work, and you’ve been told by the boss that you’re doing fabulous. Your orchid has bloomed.
Teenagers. Anyone who has raised teenagers knows that this is the shining, golden example of watering a stick. There is no bounty in raising a teenager. They’re argumentative, self-centered, emotional, and often times sullen and noncommunicative. I used to keep pictures on my fridge of my kids as one-year-olds, a daily reminder to me that they ARE sweet, they are lovable, and they are still my babies. I diligently watered…loving them when there was no reciprocation, being kind when I wanted to verbally lash out. And then there would be days or weeks where it was like old times, we’d laugh on the couch watching a movie, hugging or holding hands, only to have the camaraderie snatched away again. But further down the road– wonderfully and gloriously– they returned. You’ll find that once again, they’re steady and pleasant, and have become your friends–it’s still a parent/child relationship, but as adults, you’re now sharing a sense of kinship and respect. Watering a stick reaps beautiful Orchid blossoms.
I’m not sure how I want to end this. But whatever situation you’re in–be it good or bad, remember that much of life is like watering a stick. Don’t give up. Don’t give it to someone else to handle. It’s your stick. Your responsibility. Be faithful. Persevere. Against all odds, against what your immediate desires and needs are–take the leap and water your stick, knowing that the reward and blossoms are just around the corner.