Oh, Those Self Degrading Trees
A week or so ago we decided to take the day as a family sabbath and head around to the other side of a national park here (we have three within a two hour drive). Though dwindling, the larch forests are prevalent here. The government does what it can to protect these trees that are so much a part of tradition, history and culture here, but they are fading quickly. Larch wood is incredibly hard and is quite water resistant. It’s durable and lasts for a long time. Gers, or as we in the West know them as yurts, are constructed using larch because it holds up so well to the elements and lasts so long. What I also didn’t know before moving here was that larch, though they are a needle tree, lose all their needles in the fall and they grow back in spring.
The place we decided to stop and park was tucked back behind the trees in a little clearing, hiding us from the road. We drove across the frozen river in order to get there, which is always a fun thing to do. The wind was howling creating whiteouts and brownouts (sand) in sections blowing across the road. But, it is a beautiful place tucked down the valley from an old Buddhist monastery.
While we were there, trying to hurry up and eat as the windchill was insanely low, we ran around a played a bit. The boys ran up a mountain because they saw a tree (never mind the hundreds of trees that already surrounded us). Emmi, Iris and I stayed closer to the car trying to prepare lunch. When we were running around in and out, around the trees, there was one tree that looked interesting. It was, I think, dead. Some of the branches had been broken off or fallen off. It was tall, taller than most the trees around it, and just standing there, crooked and straight all at the same time.
The tree didn’t quite look like the others did. Yet there it was. It was what it was. Completely unassuming, without intention to look or be better. It stood there, quietly. It didn’t mind where it was, whether branches had fallen off, if it leaned that way or bent this way. It was simply what it was.
I often times wish I could think the same of me. I used to have a massive self doubt problem. From time to time it comes again but nothing like it used to. Second guessing myself, immediately apologizing for a decision or choice I made, doubting myself, my intuition, my personality and doubting who I was. Today still, too many times I get down on myself for appearance, words I wish I had or hadn’t said, decisions I wish I had made differently, etc. I’d love to say I conquered that part of me, but I haven’t. I have become far more confident in who I am in Christ. I have become more confident in how He has made me, wired me, gifted me, skilled me. I have become more confident in my experience with Him in life. But there is still doubt in myself. I guess that happens for a person who is driven by intuition.
One learned behavior I have is after this second guessing or self doubt, I begin to beat myself up about it. No matter how big or small the decision or action actually is, my perception is that it is much larger. Beating myself up is easy. Well, it seems easy. But it makes life hard. People don’t desire to spend time with someone who is constantly hurting themselves. It is hard to not begin looking at yourself negatively when you are constantly interacting with someone who beats themselves up. I read a study, actually a few, that showed children who were raised by one or more parents who were constantly talking down about themselves, repeated the behavior even though they may have been very young children.
It’s false. It’s not truth.
Thomas Kelly, in his classic work “A Testament of Devotion” writes, “If you slip and stumble and forget God for an hour, and assert your old proud self, and rely upon your won clever wisdom, don’t spend too much time in anguished regrets and self accusations but begin again, just where you are…Learn to live in the passive voice–a hard saying for Americans–and let life be willed through you.”
The larch tree stands unassuming, accepting of what it is-hurt, misshapen, yet strong and forgiving.
Either we make mistakes or mistakes happen to us. Broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. They are moments in time that cannot be taken away. Some of them are incredibly, almost unbelievably painful. And those moments will need time to walk through, to reconcile.
Walking through, but not living there. Living there is not what God intends. God intends us to live life to it’s fullest. Living in the moment of a mistake is not living, it is being tortured. It is living in a jail cell, you created, being tormented by no masked person. Simply by yourself. You are worth far more than that. Grace is a mysterious thing God has created. Grace looks at mistakes and hurts with compassion, not amnesia. Grace accepts what you may have done, who you are and loves anyway. God has grace for us that is never ending and limitless. Grace allows us to walk through. Grace allows us to reconcile. Grace allows us to see our worth, removes the blinders. Grace, in many cases, as painful as it may be, is the healing balm God has created to heal the wound and hurt. Not remove the scar, but heal the wound. I pray that we all accept His grace for ourselves and give it freely to ourselves as well today. May the you become like the larch, being who you are in Christ. May I as well.
Where have you seen others give grace? Where have you experienced grace from others? Is it hard for you, as it is for me, to give yourself grace? What helps you to give it to yourself?
be blessed today