This picture of the mighty oak tree is beautiful. It is the epitome of strength and might. Looking at that tree, it has gone through its life unscathed by the battering of elements. It stands alone and provides great shade and comfort for those beneath it; adversity in unbeknownst to this tree. Its size is massive and its strength unquestionable. The imagery of this tree is majestic, enduring and mighty!
Now to compare this tree to my life and see which traits we share. At first glance, there is just no comparison. The word mighty is not what comes to my mind first when choosing an adjective to describe my life’s journey. If I were to draw my life as a tree, it would probably look more like this one.
Ever felt like this? I think we all have. Even though things are good now, the reality is that there are seasons we go through sometimes when we feel like life has really slammed us a good one. Like, a funnel of fury has pummeled us to the point of ruin, either physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially or financially. At some point, most of us have experienced a time where things seemed too difficult to withstand.
During those times, we probably looked more like this poor tree than the mighty oak.
But look closer at the two trees. What do you notice about them? There is something they both share even at this point. They are still alive. Both trees are still standing. Their roots are intact and those roots are what have sustained them both. The whirlwind did not touch their roots. This tree is damaged, really damaged, but it is not destroyed because its roots held. Its root system ran so deep that it was able to withstand the ferocity of the storm. The take away is that the roots are what give the tree its might.
It’s all about what is below the surface. If its interior has not developed properly, the exterior of the tree will be weak and unable to maintain or support proper growth and will certainly fall with any onslaught against it. The root system is what maintains the life of the tree and allows it to stand its ground and to flourish. Inwardly, it is the same for us. It is up to us to exert effort and do the internal work to be able to stand when circumstances are bearing down on us with tremendous force.
Personally, I have had some seemingly unbearable circumstances that I had to walk through. If I had it to do over, boy, I would not have allowed myself to take some of the paths I have taken.
Hindsight is a great source of clarity, but it is inaccessible in the moment of decision. For me, the most crushing event in my life came in the way of a divorce, the death of a relationship. Talk about the storms of life; many compare divorce to a slow, painful death. Some even dare to say surviving the death of a loved one is easier. I think I almost believe that. In divorce, your relationship dies over and over again, in your thoughts, in your memories and in the replaying of every event that brought it to fruition. That’s when you have to dig deep and know that you have roots to hold you up. Sure others can help speak words of encouragement and give a hug of support, maybe even a shoulder to cry on.
As for a tree, it has to stand on its own merit. It will thrive or die based on the work that has been accomplished within. There is no external force making it live. It has to rely solely on the growth and development that has been done internally. For the tree, the effort it has exerted to live is what makes it mighty. As for us, we cannot rely on others to force us to do the internal work of developing ourselves or putting our roots in the right places.
We have to exert effort to journey on and journey well.
Eventually, we too have to stand on our own. It’s great having a support system of family and friends, but at some point we have to be alone with ourselves and that it when things get real, whether it is when you lie down to sleep, or you walk around at work or when you drive your car. You are alone with you. That’s when it gets me. It’s when I drive somewhere, anywhere; I am often forced to be alone with me! Those are the times when it starts; that constant replaying of events going on in my head like my mind is a projector screen constantly showing reruns of all the mistakes that were made, that I made. It is relentless! A song comes on the radio, you pass by someplace that holds a familiar memory or even just a random flash from the past starts that projector running. I never planned for my daily commute to be so self-condemning. Nevertheless, the ride is often brutal.
During those times, I have to press in toward my roots and find the strength to stand and keep going. It’s through hardship, that we all learn what we are made of and we learn if we have developed our own mighty roots, whether it’s faith, family, friends or sheer fortitude that are strong enough to sustain us when hardship hits home.
Might is something we all have in varying degrees. Maybe it needs work; maybe we may have to dig deep to find it.
We may find out that there has not been enough time invested to build a sustaining root system. Unfortunately, it often takes turmoil or tragedy for us to discover what we are truly made of and if we have what it takes to keep standing when life is whirling around us with a wicked wrath. I encourage you to find your might within. Contemplate how you have stood, are having to stand this very moment, or determine what needs to be done so that you will be able stand in the face of adversity. Look inward and know where your roots are and decide if they are strong enough to sustain you. If you are not sure, then put effort into developing your strength and become mighty.
Like I said, I found my might in my faith, then in family. Now, that being said, I want to reiterate that I am not completely out of the woods, lol, get it, trees…..out of the woods. Sorry, I could not resist. I am, however, on the mends. My journey has a way to go, but I am getting there. I know that I will not be destroyed by this circumstance because I have roots and they are holding me up. I have rooted myself in the Word of God and it sustains me. Daily reminding myself what the Word says about me and to me brings me the strength I need to journey on and journey well.
Be encouraged in whatever situation you are walking through. Mighty may not be the way you feel right now, but look inside and identify what is working and what needs work. Strive to develop areas of strength taking single steps until you are confident enough to make large leaps. Look again at the two trees and understand they are both mighty. One has faced much more adversity, but it is still standing. So can you!!
About the Author: Angie Preslar-McCutcheon is a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer from Huntsville, AL. She is passionate about family and writing. She endeavors to share what she has learned from her own life’s experiences and hopes that others will be inspired to journey on and journey well. You can visit her blog at angiemccutcheon.com.