Saturday, June 7, 2008

Is it a Root, Trunk, Branch, Twig or Leaf ?

We all experience upheavals in our lives. We are faced with making important decisions, things go contrary to our liking, moods swing high and low, people vie for our time and attention and do things that irk us. Initially, our emotions may erupt and our blood pressure soars. We feel faint and lack ambition. I learned a strategy that helps me deal with life's interruptions and difficulties, and I'd like to share it with you.

During a homeschool conference, Todd Wilson, of Family Man Ministries*, gave us this analogy: (my paraphrase) Think of the way God designed a tree. It has its massive, nourishing roots, which leads to its sturdy trunk, narrowing into branches and twigs with extending leaves. When something sends the "Not now! How do I deal with this?" signal your way, stop right there a minute and ask yourself, "Is this a root, a trunk, a branch, a twig or a leaf?" Then act accordingly.

I found this so simple, yet profound, and I have used it numerous times in my life since. Some things are obviously a root and will need immediate attention. But sometimes I may act like it's a root when it is not. Maybe it's actually a branch. Or possibly, it's only a leaf.

The branches and twigs are no big deal. "Thank God this is not a root," I may remind myself, and I relax and know I can handle it.

Some things are really leaves and I can just let them flutter off over my shoulder in the breeze and they slowly hit the ground at some point, but I don't have to do anything but smile.

Don't we sometimes take life too seriously? What really matters? What are the important things? What about relationships? Do I really have to have it my way all the time?

But, maybe it is a trunk or even a root. Can I turn this around and think of it as a learning experience? Hey, that's what life is made of. I ask myself, "What am I supposed to learn from this? What is God showing me here?" If we never experienced adversity, we'd never learn anything worthwhile. It builds character in us and it's part of God's plan for us to grow.

Helen Keller said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. "

With such adversity in Helen's life, almost everything she did was an accomplishment, from discovering that things have names, to going to college, writing books and traveling around the world, lecturing and raising money for blind and deaf children.

There's another strategy I've learned too, and that is to trust God in all things. He will allow trials to come and you will learn (sometimes the hard way) to trust Him more fully, when no one else will meet your needs. I'll leave you with one more lovely quote of Helen's:

"It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears."


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