Sunday, January 18, 2009

Remember the trees

Dave tells this story: It is about a biodome, which was an enclosed ecological experiment that served as a fully controlled microcosm of the planet earth. The analogy that can be drawn from the story is about the trees in the biodome. Apparently, scientists were baffled as the trees in the biodome would not grow as strong as they should. The scientists eventually realized that the problem was that the biodome was designed without wind. Because there was no wind, there was no need for the trees to put up resistance. You see, the resistance to the wind causes micro-fractures within the tree's trunk. As the tree heals, it is strengthened, allowing the tree to not only grow tall but to grow strong.

Dave told this story to me a few years ago, and it has been with me ever since, solidifying in me the awareness that we need resistance in our lives. It makes us stronger, just as it does the trees in the biodome.

On a similar note, I have been reading a book that a dear friend--we call her Momma Ray--gave to me and Dave. It's called Holding on to Hope, and it's about Nancy Guthrie's journey through suffering the death of her daugher, Hope, who lived for 199 days. In one of the chapters, she talks of suffering. Her stance is that suffering is what allows us to refine our character and it helps us to become stronger.

I'll tell you that my own suffering has made me more compassionate, and without any suffering in my life, I would not be a very caring person. As of late, a piece of my heart I didn't really know I had has gone out to others who have suffered in ways like I have with Lily. I've been able to empathize, not just sympathize.

Guthrie goes on to tell a story about a man named Bob Benson. At a retreat, he asked a group of people to fold a piece of paper in half. On the top, he told them to write down all the bad things that happened to them. On the bottom, he told them to write the best things that ever happened to them. Amazingly, many of the bottom responses mirrored the top responses. In thinking back, I realize that this is true for me! Many of the things I would consider to be bad things that have happened have ended up being good things. For instance, having Rani and Autumn at such an early age was a pretty tragic and unexpected event; however, both of their births ended up being the best things that could have happened to me. I became a better person as a result of being forced to grow up and experience the hardships of a teenage pregnancy. There have been so many other events in my life that I could list, both on the top and on the bottom.

Guthrie goes on to say that "God uses painful, difficult experiences of life for our ultimate good." Our ultimate good. Suffering? Yes.

I could choose to be bitter, but what good would that do? I know deep in my heart that this suffering will produce an ultimate good. That doesn't mean I want this suffering, but it does mean that I will be completely open to the possibility that somewhere down the line (it might be years from now), in a way that I may never completely understand, an ultimate good will come out of this experience. There is something exciting about that!

I guess it's because of what I know about the trees.

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