I have this orchid. Or should I say “had”… My mom and I saw some on sale at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware, similar to Home Depot for those of you who don’t live in LA). I was moving into my new place, and she told me I should get one because they are easy to take care of, last a really long time, etc.
Now, I don’t know much about flowers… or really much about domestic stuff in general. If it seems at all like I do, I am probably faking it. Or at least I am learning.
I assumed I needed to water the orchid every day. Most flowers sit in water all the time, so that seemed about right. But just to make sure, I googled “orchids” and quickly read something that said you should water them in the morning so they can dry up by the time night comes around.
Great! The mornings I remembered, I gave that orchid a healthy dose of water.
And I drowned it.
What I didn’t read was that orchids only need a tiny amount of water to survive. And not only to survive, but to flourish. I mean, I’m talking about a really tiny, minuscule amount. In fact, a friend of mine told me the best thing to do is put one ice cube in them every two weeks.
Any more than that, and you will drown your orchid like I did mine.
I can’t help but think about how similar all of this seems to relationships.
Whether it be a romantic relationship or a relationship with a friend or family member, it’s human nature to think that the tighter you hold onto someone, the less likely they are to leave you, hurt you, betray you.
If you’re a parent, I can imagine it’s not easy spending every waking moment (and some sleeping) of your child’s life worrying about their well being, teaching them and loving them, only to have to “let them go” at some point (some sooner than others!) and hope you did a good job raising them.
In a romantic relationship, it’s not easy to open up and be honest regarding how you feel. It’s not easy to “put yourself out there.” Sure, we could walk around with walls up all the time and not let anybody in… and not get hurt. But what kind of life is that? In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
The parents of my friends in high school who held on so tight to their children and were the most strict actually ended up having the most rebellious teens.
And you know that saying about “whoever cares less in a relationship has the most power”? Well, those who don’t suffocate romantic relationships have the best ones.
In fact, when my mom was dating two guys her senior year of high school (I know, right? I feel like that doesn’t fly these days!) one of them said, “Alright, enough of this. You have to pick: me or Andy?” And guess who she picked? Andy. And thank goodness she did because I would not be here today if she hadn’t. Because she picked my dad.
Open hands. After all, don’t all of our relationships belong to the Lord? They are not our own. They are a gift…
“Hold everything with open hands. I don’t think we are ever allowed to grab hold of anything or anyone as though they matter more than the kingdom of heaven. When you hold relationships with open hands, then people come in and out of your life as gifts of grace to be cherished and enjoyed, not objects to be owned and manipulated. And then when you hold your dreams with open hands, you get to watch God resurrect what seemed dead and multiply what seemed small.” – Angela Thomas
To love is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be exposed to the possibility of being hurt. But to love is to be exposed to the possibility of experiencing the greatest thing in life.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
To love truly is to live.