I cringed as I looked out my kitchen window and saw the parched leaves in my vegetable garden. Some of them were already brown, and, I’m pretty sure, smoldering.
“Oh man. I’ve got to water my garden!”
My problem is that I believe the weather man. He says it’s going to rain the next day. So I make the responsible decision to not waste water by turning on the sprinkler today since they’re just going to get rained on tomorrow. But we all know that the weather doesn’t often cooperate with the weather man.
Unlike me, my husband, Victor, has quite the green thumb. I honestly believe that plants perk up just by hearing his voice. But he has very little time to tend a garden, so I try to handle the farming venture each spring and summer.
Victor is always excited to till a nice fertile rectangle for me each spring. He picks out an assortment of vegetable plants, and tucks them into their new earthy home. Then the rest is up to me.
“I won’t let them die … this year,” I boast.
Victor never responds to that statement. He knows my track record with the garden, yet every spring he makes the same preparations. I have often asked myself, Why does he keep facilitating my failure?
I think for the same reason that makes relationships tick. Victor keeps tilling the soil and buying me plants because he doesn’t put a cap on the number of times he will forgive my screw-ups. He also has faith in me.
In my defense, there is one plant that I have managed to keep alive and well for more than twelve years. My European Windmill Palm was one of the first gifts Victor ever gave to me. I LOVE palm trees. It was a baby when he gave it to me, and I took care of it like it was a real child. It meant so much to me because it reminds me of our young love.
That tree is now planted in our front yard, and I never forget to water it. Perhaps that’s why Victor forgives my failed gardens every year. Perhaps he sees reason to hope that I can keep a plant alive if I really put my mind to it.
I like to think that way about our relationship. It would be easy to neglect it, to rely solely on outside sources to “water” us and give us what we need to help our relationship grow and bloom. But without putting in the work ourselves, we would soon wither.
I think forgiveness is a good way of “watering” relationships. Let’s be honest: Most of us need forgiving on a daily basis. But how dead would a relationship be if we just pointed to a previously “failed crop” and concluded that our partner doesn’t deserve another chance?
Just as Victor gives me a garden every year, ignoring the parched plants of the past years, so he forgives my relationship blunders again and again. Perhaps he does so because, like the faith he had in my gardening skills from the successful palm tree, he knows the kind of love that exists between us.
When we disappoint each other, anger each other, or annoy each other, forgiveness is the only reaction I want us to have. We can’t always forget the ways we have hurt each other, but forgetting is not essential for forgiveness. Victor hadn’t forgotten about the dried up leaves in order to pull the plow out the next year.
This year’s garden is being tended with high hopes. I fully intend to make this one work. And my determination has nothing whatever to do with my love for vegetables. I want to make it work because Victor believes I can.