“When does a cucumber become a pickle?” asks a Louise Penny character trying to figure out when her happy boy turned into a surly teenager.
When did my heart strengthen? Sometime between March and August of this year, my heart returned from an almost fatal level of heart failure to nearly normal functioning thanks to a specialized pacemaker, newly available medication and cardiac rehabilitation.
Awesome. Amazing. Fantastic. I’m grateful. This is my best hope come true.
Exactly when did my heart strengthen so much? When had it weakened in the first place? Like a cucumber becoming a pickle; each was a process I barely noticed, a change I couldn’t date.
At what moment is a runner ready for a marathon? When do patterns become habits and habits a way of life? At what point does a student become an artist or a character become rooted in honesty and integrity? At what point does healing occur or relationships fray too much to be repaired?
No one can say when, during his years in prison camp, the late John McCain changed from a hard-partying naval brat into a man of courage and honor. It was a process. No one can say exactly when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford became a strong enough survivor to tell her story of sexual assault to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee considering Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. It happened over years of hard work and healing.
We change our clothes in minutes. On the other hand, internal change–physical, emotional, spiritual, and attitudinal–happens over time.
When does a cucumber become a pickle? Cucumbers become bread and butter pickles in a week. Dill pickles need six months.
For pickles and people, the finished flavor is a matter of time in the brine. If we soak ourselves in distrust and disdain towards others, we become judgmental and sour people. If we repeatedly respond with bitterness or entitlement, we cannot help but develop a nature of such attitudes.
But if we repeatedly behave kindly, we become people who instinctively respond with kindness. If we act repeatedly with courage, honor and integrity we develop character imbued with these qualities. If we intentionally pause each day to give thanks, we become gracious, grateful people.
The good news is that we can dump out our brine and start afresh. Choose wisely and trust the process.