I love the way trees feel magical to kids (and adults if you’re like me). I remember hours spent with my sisters and friends in our kid-made treehouse growing up. Now my children and their neighbor friends spend hours each week in our tree out back. They sit on branches and call them their rooms, assigning each new friend a new area. They have raked out a little path leading to the tree and lined it with sticks. And they can often be seen hanging upside-down like possums.
My older boys always gravitate towards trees and attempt to climb them wherever we are. For the most part I let them. They like to go high. And for the most part I let them.
Instead of being fearful they might fall, I’ve decided to just try and teach them to spot the healthy branches to climb.
Though not perfect, they’re getting a lot better at this. Instead of pausing to rest on a cracked, dead limb with no leaves, or a scrawny twig that won’t hold their weight, they look for one full of life and strength.
This is what I want for them in life too. I want to let them be brave and go high and take risk and work hard. They will have mis-steps and fall and experience trial and pain, but I don’t want to keep them from that by making them stay on the lowest branches two feet off the ground, or not letting them climb at all. I want to teach them how to navigate the tough stuff.
And most importantly, I want them to rest on the strong and healthy One. I don’t want them to choose cheap imitations that will crumble beneath their weight.
I have felt God kindly invite me to persevere and climb higher in situations that I previously feared or felt were too difficult for me. He’s taught me how to navigate and how to stand in the midst of uncertainty. I’m learning how to cling to Him when things are shaky.
A few days ago I was out running the neighborhood with the babies in a stroller and Jackson on his bike beside me. He was pushing himself to go faster and harder.
He said, “Look, Mom, I’m getting stronger!” Then, “Does it always hurt when you’re getting stronger, Mom?”
Yep, bud. Pretty much. Embrace it now.
Pain is usually required to grow in strength. I've been feeling it and I know it's true.
An athlete doesn't build muscle by sitting around and wishing for muscle or reading about it. My kids won't build physical and emotional and spiritual endurance and fortitude if I forever keep them on the lowest branches, literally and metaphorically.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Those words are from the book of Isaiah and I love them.
You might be feeling weary (and not the kind of weary that can be fixed with all the goods being sold everywhere you look). You might be trying to muster strength to climb higher and you want to build perseverance and muscle. But it’s hard.
In my most weary moments in the past few weeks the words from Isaiah have proven to possess supernatural strength. They are like being thrown a life jacket or a strong rope as you struggle to keep your head afloat in the waves.
I’ve learned to play this song (based on Isaiah 40) on the piano and play it many times throughout the day, everyday. In a drowning moment I play it and sing. What grace He offers. He’s ever-present. Always faithful.