Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Keep Growing!

My wonderful husband makes me coffee each day before he leaves for work (and before I wake up.) So, every morning I have a few minutes to sit and stare out the kitchen window while I wait for the microwave to heat up my coffee. As I look out the window, I see all the trees and brush growing on our mostly wild property. In particular, I see a tree just outside the back fence that I have come to think of as “my” tree, because I see it as symbolizing my life with a chronic illness.

Several years ago, we had a terrible ice storm, which coated all of our trees. The ice was so heavy that the younger, thinner trees bent over with the weight of it. After the ice melted, all the trees gradually returned to their normal upright position over the next few days, with the exception of this one, which has remained bowed over ever since. Somehow, it was so damaged by the ice that it was never able to spring back. For years, I would look at it and think that maybe it would eventually get back to the way it was, but it has never happened. However this year, I noticed something that is absolutely amazing: at the top of the arc, new growth has appeared, reaching straight up! It’s as if the tree has realized it’s never going to unbend, so it better start growing upward in the only way it can - from its new “top!” It’s just getting on with its purpose in life as best it can, which is to grow up toward the sky.

And that’s what got me thinking about the parallel to my own life. Over thirteen years ago I was “bent over” by an illness. Most people would have recovered normally from it, and gone back to “standing upright” (full health.) But I never did. I’ve remained “bent over” (chronically ill) all these years. I was too damaged by the illness to go back to normal. BUT, even though I’m bent over, I’m still growing! I’m growing out from my illness! Just because I’m chronically ill, doesn’t mean my purpose in life is over! I’m still sick, but my life still has meaning. I can still grow. It’s not the growth I would have wanted, but it’s still growth. 

And the alternative can also be seen in this photo: off to the right you can see a tree that snapped off because of the weight of the ice. That could have been “my” tree. It would have been easy for me to just give up on my life and dreams, because of my illness. All of my hopes and plans were dashed. I could have just snapped in two. But I didn’t. I decided that even though I’m bent over, even though I’m not like a “normal” healthy person, I wouldn’t give up. I chose to keep growing, just as “my” tree has!

Maybe life has left you “bent over” too. Maybe you thought that you could never grow again, because of the damage caused. But that tree is living proof that you can keep growing, keep living. I see it every day, and it reminds me the God can create good out of any situation, any life - no matter how broken. If that tree can do it, so can I. And so can you!