Many years ago, returning home from college for a visit, Mom asked if I’d help her cut down a tree. (We are aggressive women in my family.) A weeping willow tree in our backyard had never developed as expected. It was pathetic and Mom determined that it was about dead. So, we pioneer women sawed off the trunk at ground level…literally. She was incredibly proud of our handiwork. I found out later that day that she had ‘forgotten’ to mention the landscaping plan to Dad. He was…surprised. A couple of years later I was back home and noticed that the willow tree was thriving despite being massacred…I mean pruned unto death. The tree may have looked fragile but apparently its root system was quite strong and healthy.
A few years ago, following a substantial windstorm, I drove past a downed tree in our neighborhood. It was a massive tree and the root ball, unearthed as the tree lay on its side, stood at least 10 feet high. It was massive. The tree itself had looked strong healthy and almost eternal. Yet a very stiff wind toppled the mighty oak.
I have met people over the years who looked to be deeply grounded, wise and strong, the kind of people on whom you could lean and depend, who could weather the stuff of life. I’ve also known people who seemed fragile and breakable yet found them to be incredibly resilient. Ultimately, it seems, you cannot always tell from outward appearance how deep and strong a root system might be.
I sat with a woman who had lost a child, and I could not fathom how they would make it through the day. Yet as weeks, months and years passed they found their strength… found their way. I talked with a man whose wife left him and he became emotionally debilitated, losing his ability to connect with his children or friends. He never recovered, becoming bitter and utterly unhappy. Often it is a matter of grounding or roots. I have not yet found a way to avoid the pains of life, but I have seen incredible nobility in people in the face of severe struggles. There is something in their root system that determines how they will fare in the face of adversity.
My mom, a single mother, was poor as could be, working two jobs to feed her three girls. She had a controlling and abusive father, and an alcoholic and absent husband. How in the world could she survive? If you met my mom today, you would not assume her hardships. She is a kind, peaceful woman who loves easily. How does that happen? She has a strong root system…a very strong root system. Part of it comes from her mother who was a beautiful soul living in wretched conditions with grace. Faith is the other part of Mom’s root system. She will tell you that faith is the strength in her that makes everything doable. It is also the means through which she sees good in most things and people.
There is a 99.99% chance that you have faced some very difficult ‘stuff’ in your life. You may be facing it right now. How are you holding up? How is your root system? I encourage you to choose forgiveness, kindness, grace and love rather than anger, resentment, bitterness, etc. Develop a deep and steady root system thru faithfulness, integrity and character. Choose to live a generous and honest life.
What I said about Mom is true of me also. Faith in the goodness and love of God is the very best foundation you can have. He is courage and hope in even the greatest storms. What are you facing today? Where do you need strength? I pray that you will discover your deep, steadfast roots and there find the peace and strength you need in your life.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
James 1:12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Proverbs 20:7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.