I think we have a lot to learn from trees. I don’t say that to segue into some sort of environmentalist stand, I just think it’s true. It seems like there are few things, if any, that God hasn’t planted around us to teach us something good about who he is.
Just last week, I was listening to an episode called “Things” from my favorite podcast and there was a story about a tree that caught my attention.
In the episode, a man was sharing about a big maple tree.
His dad had planted it in the yard of the house he grew up in when they moved in. The man adored it, but sadly, years later, his dad ended up having to chop it down because it’d grown so big that it was putting the house’s foundation at risk.
At this point, the man telling the story was now an adult and living thousands of miles away from home. But when his mother called about the tree, she could sense his devastation. She then went out into the yard and gathered the remaining seeds from the maple’s removal and sent them to her son so he could start over and plant his own.
Right in his grown-up backyard, he watched a new maple of his own sprout up and grow to be big and beautiful.
The story continued, but I paused.
I actually physically took a break at this point in the podcast because I found myself driving and crying, which felt like a bad 80’s song. The mother’s gesture in the story seemed simple, but it struck a deep chord in me.
The idea of having to uproot something we’ve planted with sureness — to end a season that’s created memories and shade for so many years — reminded me a lot of dealing with necessary change.
We don’t like saying goodbye to things we’ve found comfort in. But sometimes, if we don’t, we end up ruining our foundation, creating bigger problems than before and never making room for anything new to take place.
The man in this story didn’t want to say goodbye to the tree that was so much a part of his past.
But with its death, he got to watch a new tree grow.
A new tree that allowed him to let go of what had been and look forward to what was ahead.
How many times have I been afraid to let go of a relationship, job or opportunity because it felt hard and I wasn’t sure if God was going to really provide something better?
I’ve been afraid to cut down trees and plant new ones.
What’s beautiful about this story is the seeds; they are the lessons learned and truths found that stay alive from one season to the next, if we’re willing to remove them from the remains of the rotted tree and use them to plant a new one.
But instead, we often spend more time convincing friends, family and ourselves that our old trees are fine — that our hearts, values and futures aren’t really at risk if we don’t chop them down. We find ourselves resting under a delusional shade.
We end up being the wrong kind of tree huggers.
But what if your fearful grip is ruining your foundation and keeping something better from being planted in front of you? A job you find meaning in, a significant other that adores you as much as you adore them, or the time to finally take that trip you’ve been dreaming about for years.
What tree are you holding onto that needs to be chopped down?
Time to gather the seeds and go let something better grow.