“But I know that I’m ready!” I insisted. My mother sighed and continued to push, pull, poke and otherwise abuse the globular mass of sticky bread dough as she pondered for words to combat my challenge. “Sweetheart,” she said, “You’re not ready. You are anything but ready. I know, because I was once in a similar position to yours and believe me, looking back, I wasn’t ready. I know you’re not me,” as indignant protest rose to my lips, “and I know nobody has ever felt the feelings you feel before, but I think my age and experience count for something.”
We were sitting in the kitchen. It was a rather ghastly day out—one of those weepy ones where the sky doubles as a leaky faucet. Mom continued, “I know you think that Jeff is the most important thing in the whole wide world right now. But, dear, you’re sixteen years old. Jeff is nineteen. That’s just too young to be contemplating marriage! You know your father and I want you to finish high school and go to college first. Jeff’s a fine boy, but you two will just have to wait.”
“I don’t see why. I know we can do it—we’ll be together and that’s all that matters.”
She paused, dipping her hand into the bag of flour and sprinkling over the tabletop. “Honey, remember when I first showed you how to make bread?”
“Of course, Mom.”
“Was it the first thing I ever taught you to make?”
“Why do you think that is?”
I didn’t answer.
Satisfied with its consistency, she divided the dough into three brown masses and began rolling it out. The rolling pin creaked and stuck. She dusted it with flour. “Well, I’ll tell you. I didn’t get you started cooking by making bread. That would have been difficult and discouraging. So I began by having you bake cookies and make pancakes and other easier things. Then, after you were comfortable with those, I moved you up to more difficult recipes. It was then that I gave you the chance to make something harder. It was then that I wanted you to try bigger things—when you had some skills to bring to the job already. Bread is tricky and you have to respect it if you want it to turn out right.
The same goes for marriage. I want you to have life experience and maturity so that you are better able to handle the challenges that will come up. Being married isn’t just flowers on Valentine’s Day and candy kisses, dear. It’s far more than that. It involves so much that I know it will be better for you if you wait a while first and gather wisdom.”
Mom had a point about the bread. I had tried making it one day after watching her—she didn’t know I was doing it until I had finished the dough. That first batch I baked too soon was the Battle of Waterloo all over again. It had overflowed the pans and wreaked havoc on the oven rack while I stood by like a distracted Bonaparte and wondered why I ever tackled making the stuff in the first place without help. Mom had taught me properly later, and now I was practically a bread machine.
She broke in on my reverie. “God works that way in our lives, too. He doesn’t give us big things ’til we’ve gone through little ones. He lets us gather experience and gives us harder tasks as we grow in Him. Right now, we, your parents, have a duty to keep you from trying things that we know are too much for you. We are building you up, getting you ready for the trials life will hold. God has given us that authority in your life, and He’s given us experience for you to lean on. In time, you will come to the place in which you’ll be prepared for the biggest things in life. You’re not there yet, but you will be. And I think, then, you’ll know why we made you wait.”
I didn’t say anything that day, as the rain traced random patterns on the window. But years later, when I had some of that experience my mother spoke of, I knew she knew what she was talking about. And I was glad my parents made me wait. For it does take time and trials and tears—for the big things.
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