Perhaps you’ve heard this little story before, but it’s worth re-telling…
There once was a mighty oak that stood atop the hill. Ancient. Strong. Unyielding.
At the bottom of the hill there was a creek. And alongside that creek grew a lowly, young reed. So forgiving it would yield to even the softest breeze.
One day a storm blew in like none that had come before it. Angry and fierce. With winds that howled in rage. The great oak refused to budge. It stood tall and faced the wind head on, confident in its strength to resist the powerful gusts.
Meanwhile, the humble reed chose to bend to the great winds. It accepted the wind for what it was and simply allowed it to blow on by. It offered no resistance. No struggle.
And which do think was left standing after the storm?
Yep, you know the answer. The mighty oak had snapped, while the supple reed stood tall in the aftermath.
I like this little story, for so many reasons. One of them being how It challenges our thinking on endurance. And strength. But really, I don’t think the problem was the tree’s strength so much as it was its resistance.
There is a time to stand firm and tall and to remain unyielding, and there is a time to let go of control and opposition, allowing ourselves to bend-even when it’s incredibly uncomfortable-so we don’t break. We don’t always have to fight it or conquer it–there is another way.
But it feels a little counter-cultural to resign or accept the things happening in our lives when our rights feel challenged and the storms rage on. It’s hard to admit, but I have a tight grip on the rights I feel I have to a good life. Or at least a somewhat easy one. So the thought of surrendering and just letting the wind blow can sound kinda crazy.
This past month has been physically exhausting. I had the wicked flu, was sent to the hospital for dehydration, followed by bronchitis, and finally an infection in my tooth that led to an emergency root canal. All while sliding in to my third trimester of pregnancy.
My daughter has been sick, too, which has added to all the doctors visits. Preparing for this next babe has come with several house projects and lengthy to-do lists (not to mention the anxiety that comes in anticipation of sleepless nights and the HARD newborn days). AND, of course, finances always seem to add to the stress list-whenever there is one. Especially when anything medical is involved. I’m not sure the last time you went to the dentist, but they sure aren’t giving anything away.
My body feels like it’s failing me and my discouragement has been at an all time high. It has felt like one thing after another, with little stressors happening in between the big stressors, and the hits just keep on coming.
In times like this, I tend to try to muscle through. I try to live like the oak tree, or at least some version of it. When I see a storm coming, I dig in my heels and brace myself, stiff and unyielding. No asking for help. No admitting defeat. Sometimes I can make it to the end of the storm still standing while other times, I snap.
While the path of strength and grit seems to be the most common way to deal, it actually sounds much more effective to take on trials like the reed, to become so flexible that nothing can break you. To learn humility and surrender when life feels unforgiving and hard.
We are not a people that resign easily, but we end up battered and torn because of it. What would it look like if we instead let go? If we practiced breathing in and out a state of peaceful calm, trusting that eventually the storms will subside. Because they will.
Storms don’t last forever. Sickness won’t last forever. Pregnancy won’t last forever. The newborn phase won’t last forever. These long days and sleepless nights won’t last forever. The stressors outside of my control won’t last forever.
I’m practicing the self-talk I imagine the humble reed had…whatever feels like it will break me, this too shall pass.
It’s just a season.
I’ve been spending more morning time reading the scriptures, acknowledging where I end and starting my day surrendering to the Lord. I have to. I don’t know another way. If it was up to me to muscle through this season of sickness, challenges and big life changes and somehow come out stronger on the other side, I wouldn’t make it.
I’m thankful I don’t have to do it alone.
And neither do you.
God gave us God. And He also gave us people, because He knows we need them.
If you have a village, use them. Accept help and meals and childcare and kind words. Let the goodness of your people wash over you like a spring rain. And If you don’t have a village, find one. Start one. Tell the people in your life the things you need and let them show up for you. You might be surprised at how much you didn’t know you needed. And how many people would love the opportunity to bless you.
Whatever your storm is, I wish you the strength to not go at it alone. May we be flexible people who take the hard things as they come, knowing they won’t last forever. And find the humility to lay down our rights, our wants, our ideals and let the storms of right now blow on by.
It’s just a season.
And God is still good.
Habakkuk 3: 17-19