One afternoon, several years ago, I heard several loud thumping noises coming from outside. In my backyard was a young, yet beautiful tree – however, this morning this tree’s trunk had become the baseball to a young boy’s baseball BAT! That’s right – the “bang! Thump! BANG!” was a boy beating the trunk of the tree with his bat. Before I could run out to stop him, he ran away. So I continued washing my dishes. I didn’t really think about the young tree or the damage that had been inflicted upon it.
In the spring of the following year, I noticed branches growing out of the side of the trunk, at each point of the infamous “batting practice” there was a branch protruding. Many branches actually. So much so, the top of the tree was dying, and it actually looked like a giant bush! I remember thinking I should call the HOA and tell them to dig it up… year after year would go by … 2, 3, … this thing didn’t know which way to grow—it had branches protruding out of it’s trunk and it grew outward, not upward… it’s top was dead, it was a HOT MESS! This eye sore needed to go! Let’s dig it up and replant a new tree… this one will never look like it should.
One morning, several seasons later, as I sat drinking my coffee and having my quiet time, I stared out my window at that tree. And goodness grief- IT LOOKED LIKE A TREE AGAIN! I realized overtime as the gardeners pruned the branches off the trunk (Branches, that if you’d asked me looked like the ONLY healthy thing coming out of that tree). The tree had begun to grow upward again… reaching toward the sun… and could most certainly be identified as a tree once again.
I felt the presence of the Lord in looking at that tree. It was as if He were sitting with me, whispering, “See that? That’s how I work – it takes time, but I ALWAYS repair and ALWAYS help restore true identity. Amy, who are you?” It was so sweet, and I have tears remembering. “I made your blueprint – it’s My image. What wounds have you allowed to produce a growth I never intended… growth, that left unattended took over and sapped your strength to be who I meant you to be?”
I knew in that moment, we – me – all of us could be seen in that tree and the baseball bat of life. Can you hear it, ladies? They called me ugly (Bang!), they called me fat (Bang!), my husband /father / mother betrayed me (Bang!), they never wanted me (Bang!)… Bang! Bang! Bang!.. What grew from that point of contact? Bitterness? Insecurity? Lack of identity?… Are those branches thriving while the rest of us wilts and dies, never growing as we should?
What God creates is always beautiful and functions as it should for His glory if not defiled by sin. If there were no sin in this world, if we had not taken the physical and emotional blows of a bat, been subjected to the pain inflicted by some oblivious offender or worse one fully aware, not chosen to believe a lie over truth…If there were no sin, I’d be as that tree! I’d reflect who God always said I was!
But there is sin and wounds are real. And some wounds are so deep we cease seeing them as wounds and feed them as if they were a part of us. As we feed them, we, like the tree become something “other.” We begin to take on the identity of something, someone God never originally intended. Being the disfigured tree becomes our normal so much so we have forgotten the look of a healthy tree, one that grows up as it should. So God asks, “Who are you?”
Are there places where our wounds have define the women we are – our character? Have we allowed them to dictate what we’re capable of or more importantly what we believe God is capable of doing through us? Are we willing to be pruned? Are we willing to trust the Lord is faithful, obey him by forgiving and feed my soul with Living water instead of feeding the wound(s)? Will we allow Him to prune us so that we may begin growing up in pure joy? We must. It’s the only way we’ll truly heal… a healing that brings forth continued and healthy growth.
Meanwhile, back in my yard – the tree stands tall now. It’s top is crowned with beautiful leaves. It continues to sprout little twigs (for a lack of better word) from its trunk; they’re very small. Incapable of pulling any strength from the growth of the tree, they are but small reminders of the damage inflicted. They are unnoticeable to most onlookers; completely overshadowed by the height and fullness of a truly magnificent tree. It took time. It took constant pruning. But the gardener was faithful to do what needed doing. So I smile knowing I, like the tree, have a faithful Gardner as well.
Author: Amy Stansell
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Lord, You are good. And all the created things and people made by Your hands were purposefully and masterfully made. Your Word says, and I claim as true, that I am Your masterpiece, created in the image of Jesus and that You have created me to do purposeful things! I didn’t notice I’d stopped growing, God. I did not understand that I had allowed the wounds to tell me who I was! I am sorry, Lord. Show me the branches that must be pruned, God! And help me to surrender every wound to You, forgive where I need to forgive, let go what I need to get go, confess my own sin. I ask for Your protection… that the enemy would have no foothold in my life. Give me strength to shout “NO!” to the enemy and claim, “By the Word of the mighty, powerful, and all loving Jesus Christ, I am His child and He has forgiven me. He has made me beautiful, clean, and empowers me everyday to do His work! And do it I will!”