My friend, Mark Wager, wrote this blog. I loved it and I think you will also. You can find his other blogs at Love God, Love People, Live Free.
I’m reading a book published a few years ago, “What the Dog Saw”, by Malcolm Gladwell. I love these quirky books about what makes people and society tick. So, as I’m reading a chapter in this book about “LATE BLOOMERS” it hits me how true this is true for so many of us. Whether or not you’re a late bloomer I believe you’ll see why I think this is so important for us ALL to know. Changing our understanding about this could radically change the people around you… and it could radically change how you view yourself.
Let me start by introducing you to a trimmed version of the passage that got me thinking…
From “What the Dog Saw”, Part 3, “Late Bloomers”
… [Mark] Twain fiddled and dispaired and revised and gave up on Huckleberry Finn so many times that the book took him nearly a decade to complete. [Like Twain and others, ] the * Cezzanne’s of the world bloom late, not as a result of some fault in character, or distractions, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error, necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.
. . .
On the road to great achievements, the late bloomer will resemble a failure. While the late bloomer is revising and dispairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.
Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forebearance and blind faith.
. . .
Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder, how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents? [Not everyone’s talents are so quickly recognized.] If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes to see your art reach its true level. [We need ‘guardians’, ‘protectors’, ‘coaches’, someone to believe in us. For the late bloomer,] his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others.
. . .
Late bloomer’s stories are invariably, “love stories”. And this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to [keep supporting] what looks like ‘failure’ have nothing to do with something as rareified as genius, but sometimes genius is anything but rareified. Sometimes it’s just a thing that emerges after 20 years of working at your kitchen table.
Can you see why this stirred me so much? I mean… how many have WE thwarted?.. given up on?… abandoned hope that things will never change… and in our own personal journey, how many times have we thwarted ourselves?… sold ourselves short… given up on our dreams?
And, did you catch the crux?… that we need “someone to see you through…“. In each story, the book’s author describes the connecting-circle of people in the lives of not-yet-great people made the difference between obscurity and greatness, between boredom and engagement, between drudgery and creativity, between death and life. Do you see it? — Our story requires the interaction… or better yet, theintervention… of others and of God. We all need this. And, better still, we can all BE this to another.
Who are you believing in? When all seems like ‘failure’, who are you supporting? To whom are you a ‘guardian’, ‘protector’, ‘coach’, a believer in?
Or, maybe you’ve given up on yourself. Don’t. Don’t give in to the belief that this is as good as it gets. You may be just a season away from blooming. Do something… agree to just take one more step closer.
Learning to believe it’s never too late to bloom!
”We continue to walk the path to maturity when we admit how deeply we long for a father, a man who walks ahead of us, letting us know what is possible and calling us to follow, and a brother, a peer whose struggles and compassion encourage us to make ourselves known to him as we walk together. When the reality hits us, as it will for most men, that we have neither father nor brother, the overwhelming disappointment can either turn into bitterness or it can drive us to seek God with all our hearts and to become fathers and brothers for other men. For those few who know the joy of being well fathered and richly brothered, the calling is not merely to enjoy these blessings but to provide the same ones for others.
If men today are willing to look into darkness, to remember God, and then to speak words that bring life to others, if they are willing to walk the steep, narrow, long path toward true masculinity, then perhaps our children will enter their adult years blessed with an older generation of mentors, men who father well as they walk with their brothers toward home.”
Silence of Adam – Larry Crabb
I know a late bloomer when I see one, because I am one.
May the Lord grant us the belief and perseverance to guard those late bloomers around us.
Mark (and Gary),
This is GREAT. It is well written and very thought provoking.
I love how we need each other…and I’m not proud of how I’ve treated people.
Thanks, I needed that.
As soon as I saw the subject line on Gary’s email I thought of Gladwell’s book because I also just finished reading it. I was struck by and related to this chapter as I have always been a late bloomer. It was very inspirational and encouraging to me. Thanks for the reminder.
I think we’ve been lied to about just how long it takes to pull of a significant, meaningful creative work. As I’m discovering, it’s not months: it’s years or even a decade or more. This seems consistent with Biblical examples like Joseph, Daniel, the Prophets.
People who aren’t willing to settle for trivial, but insist on meaning, are in it for as long as it takes. But we can’t underestimate the impact of our glory along the way, either. As we walk out our long desire, we’re still bringing life. Today,
This was a fantastic post, Gary and Mark.
Great post. I also read this book last year. Gladwell is one of my favorite authors. I think it’s too easy to assume that success (whatever that means for you) must come at a certain age and that there is a point in time where it’s too late. Persistence is the key to attaining your goals and having an encourager in your life can make all the difference.
In Outliers, Gladwell wrote a chapter about Rosetta, PA. It’s a town where people lived significantly longer than the norm. They did’t particularly eat healthy or exercise as they should. What made the difference was the sense of community that existed. This speaks to our deep need for each other.
Thanks for posting this.
Gary, this hit hard and bang on target just at the right time bro. Thanks a tonne – I love it when this happens. I was feeling so taken out. I’m 23. Lit hours ago I was co-leading a group of 18 years old christians. And I just felt… a failure. Felt I didn’t have what it takes. Felt I couldn’t handle it. And the frustrating thing is I’ve been at it for nearly 2 years straight and that feeling has only slightly reduced. My desire and my abilities are so far apart.
The temptation to drop-out is so strong and seek a short-cut or cut a deal. But ultimately they don’t lead to life. I have and need people to see me through.
You’re a great man Gary!
I haven’t read this book, but the author has evidently been reading my mail. Needing others. . . my prayer for so long has been for the Lord to bring someone to me to shepherd me along. I have felt the great burden of this, as not long ago that I heard the Lord say to me, “You are a Moses. Don’t compare yourself to the timetable of others. What I am birthing in you takes time, son.” Oh how I wish He would tell others that, too. Instead, I often just feel foolish with my creativity and ideation. Yes, I do agree that something is being birthed for I am feeling the pains of childbirth for the man I will become. My heart is so pulled into this message. Thank you. Thank you for speaking it to me.