Look up at the trees

Have you ever stopped and looked at the trees, to more than pass them by and simply admire them? I know very little about trees, but I know there’s a lot of different kinds of trees. I count three very different kinds of leaves in my backyard right now, and there’s a dark purple tree or bush across the street that’s different from everything else on my block.

Despite my aversion to camping and being covered in mosquitos, I have always been fascinated by trees. They remind us that we all go through seasons – new life, bright change, what feels like death, and fullness. New trees remind us that greatness takes time, measured in years, decades, and sometimes centuries instead of minutes and number of likes.

Their root system goes deep and wide beneath the surface, teaching us there is always more to a person or situation than what we can see. Their trunk and branches will sway with the winds and storms, and even if the storm bends them sideways, they will still grow as long as they are connected to their water source.

Trees are often a symbol of strength – offering shade, oxygen, and sometimes fruit. They hold nests, birdhouses, tree houses, tire swings, and a complex jungle gym. They remind us the potential of what happens when we choose to stay instead of leaving. They climb higher towards heaven, forcing our eyes up to the sky where they belong.

I find the beauty of the trees are in their differences. Walking through a forest I notice the variance in heights, widths, fullness of leaves, number of branches, spots with knots, and I stand in awe. I think to myself, “Does this tree compare itself to the one next to it across from it, wishing it could be taller or have more leaves? Or does it embrace how its made, and grow?”

I admit I compare myself to others, almost all the time. I spent so much time on the outside, that my biggest desire has just been to fit in. I’ve spent years minimizing my differences and trying to be like everyone else, but things like my laugh and my unwillingness to participate in anything Twilight-related keeps me from turning into a clone. But what if my differences aren’t reasons to isolate myself from the masses, but just another part of who I am?

But what does all this comparison do? It’s a cycle of telling myself I’m not good enough, and even my best is not good enough. I will never be thin enough, short enough, tall enough, cute enough, smart enough, quick enough… fill in your blanks. These are poisonous thoughts watering my soul, rather than life-giving water feeding my growth. So what do I do when I catch myself in that destructive loop?

I stop.

I close my eyes.

I take a deep breath.

I exhale and look up.

I look up at the trees and then to the sky, and remind myself that different is not always bad. Sometimes different is just different.

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