In My Journey I've Learned: People are Plants
A few weeks back, I found a luscious green Boston fern at my local plant nursery. I've never owned a fern before, but done fairly well with maintaining the growing number of indoor and outdoor plants I have in and around the home. I was attracted to how big the fern was, and could immediately picture where it would go in my home, and how it would enhance my environment.
As with all plants purchased in a nursery, I looked for the tiny "Care" instructions, inserted in the soil. I always make sure to check that tag, because I want to make sure that I can accommodate what that plant needs before committing to purchasing it. Many plants have stayed in the nursery after I've done this, because I quickly learned that I could not meet it's needs. The card said that it needed medium light, frequent watering, and humidity. Seemed simple enough, so I brought my fern home.
The first few days, my fern stood proudly in a partially sunny spot in my home. I watered it often, and gave it "showers". My home, however, wasn't very humid - yet. In the summers, I keep my home a comfortable 80 degrees inside which produces a bit of humidity inside. The weather had not shifted to the summer just yet, but I knew we were a few weeks away from warmth to nourish my fern.
Well, a few weeks wasn't soon enough. My glorious fern started dropping leaves. EVERYWHERE. Every time I moved it to water/shower it, a trail of tiny brown leaves followed. I found myself vacuuming behind the fern daily, and around the floor where it stayed. Concerned about my fern, I took to Google to figure out what was going on with my fern. I though I did everything right to care for it to the best of my ability; was this just a difficult plant? Was it too high maintenance? I had all these judgments and assessments about the plant and didn't think twice about my care of it. Obviously what I was doing was sufficient; look at all my other plants! They were doing just fine!
I found an article on Gardening Know How on Boston Fern Care, and in the opening paragraph it stated that "Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are popular houseplants and proper Boston fern care is essential to keeping this plant healthy. Learning how to take care of a Boston fern isn’t difficult, but it is specific."
Not difficult, but specific. Specific. I missed the specificity with caring for the fern. It isn't difficult to care for the fern, but it did require me to do something a little different that with the other plants I have. I could have chosen to meet the plant's specific needs or not, but what was apparent that there wasn't anything wrong with the fern, and it not living up to it's fern-like qualities had nothing to do with the fern, but all to do with how I chose to care for it. Ultimately, I decided the best I could do for the fern was to move it outdoors (where it is happier for sure), but what I had in mind for the fern to take it's place indoors in all it's magnificent glory was disrupted. It didn't work because I was unwilling to meet it's specific needs.
'So what's the point of all of this?', I'm sure you're wondering. Today, I am reminded that people are much like plants too, and in this case, ferns. Relating to another human being and being in relationship with another person has it's own highs and lows, but when you bring two open, loving, and willing people together in a relationship, it can be a beautiful, glorious thing! However, choosing to ignore or quickly note each person's "care" card; their attitudes, values, and beliefs can and will create an environment where both people are questioning the legitimacy and longevity of their relationship. We look at the other person, not quite embodying who we thought they were or who they proclaimed to be and quickly think or say, "Ah! See! You are a fraud! I've done everything I needed to do to uphold my end of the relationship. I do it effectively in other areas, see!? If it's not working here, it's because something is wrong with you."
But that other person may not be a fraud. Perhaps what you are experiencing from that person is a direct correlation to the amount of care you took to support their nourishment and energy. Little did you know or realize that caring for that person wasn't difficult, but specific. If you know anything about plants, if you give them the proper care, they really do everything else on their own. They'll grow, sprout, flower, bloom, and go back to seed without you having to do anything else, just the bare minimum of specific, care.
We are not responsible for anyone's happiness, self-worth, self-esteem, self-efficacy, joy, pain, unhappiness, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. How we choose to respond to the outside world and other people is solely up to us, and is just that - a choice. We are, however, responsible for the impact our actions make on that person's happiness, self-worth, etc. If what we see being reflected back in our relationships is measuring up to what we saw initially, it may be worth finding out what role we have played in contributing to that. And what you'll find is that what was needed or lacking in the relationship was specific. Not difficult.