There is a tree in our backyard that reminds me of myself, and I don’t take a picture of it to show you for the same reason I haven’t posted a real, true selfie on social media in months. Last year we decided to move that tree, a beautiful little hydrangea that had faithfully produced gorgeous white blossoms each summer. It had been planted well, but crooked, and the gusty winds that wind their way through our backyard unstopped by layers of open field had only served to bend the trunk more. It had also been planted in a season before things were settled and mapped out in our backyard, a place chosen out of convenience and hope rather than permanency. Now that we had added a fence and landscaping the faithful little tree was, quite simply, in the way.
With care and thought, we relocated the tree to a back corner of the yard where we knew it would shine as the focal point of our garden. But, like many things that grow deep roots, it didn’t take kindly to being moved from the comfort and security of what it had always known. Although it didn’t die, it certainly didn’t thrive. Those fragrant white blooms were withheld from our presence last year as the little tree tried desperately to figure out it’s new home. We wondered if it would make it.
It looked barren for awhile, bare branches still reaching to the sky and making a landing place for the many birds that frequent our backyard. We decided to give it some time before we discarded it into the trash heap behind the fence, not willing to call time of death on something that had once been so full of life and beauty. I planted perennials around the base of the tree and in the surrounding mulch. Maybe if I put living things near it the tree would remember how to grow. Or at least we would be distracted by the color and newness of the small plants and forget to worry about the tree that might not survive the change.
I looked at that tree this morning from our bathroom window, my reflection in the mirror above the sink in my periphery and I noticed something new. Something different. There were leaves. Tiny and bright green, but they were there. Only on one small side of the tree, the rest still brown and dry, but there they were. I know what that feels like. Like the smile that finds it’s way to my face but not yet back up to my eyes. Like the gratitude that overwhelms my heart for the prayers God has answered and mingles still with the grief and hurt of another change and loss. It’s a season that somehow looks like wilderness and abundance at the same time, old things dying and new things coming to life and I haven’t yet discovered my roots in this new place.
The only thing I can do is stay here, giving myself time to figure out what new version of these beautiful gifts God would have me offer the world. In small acts of obedience, I do the work set before me and make one sentence notes of gratitude in a 5-year journal that will hopefully bring me far more joy than the hurtful collection of Facebook memories I encounter each morning. I bury the dreams of fancy titles and public accolades and commit to doing more serving because I think something lovely might come out of those places.
Maybe, one day, when the tree is in full bloom and has said a loving goodbye to the barren place it once knew, I’ll take a picture for you. And maybe, one day, when that smile again meets up with my eyes, when I recognize that woman looking back at me, and I know you won’t worry if you see sadness mixed with the joy, you’ll discover another selfie on Instagram. But even if not, I know that God has something planned with this new space He’s given me, where maybe I’m no longer in the way but taking some time to grow deeper, stronger roots. One day I’ll fully bloom again. I can’t wait.
Beautiful. And so applicable to all of life!
Mary Lou Caskey says
Thanks so much Crystal, what a beautiful encouragement that I know my friends will love.
Thank you for a beautifully written piece, I think so many people can relate to this. The feeling of being uprooted, dormant, left waiting for beauty and wholeness to resurface. We met two years ago at Declare but I have enjoyed keeping up with you on your blog and look forward to what “blooms” in your future soon.
Crystal S. says
Gal! I have SO enjoyed following your journey on IG since we met (gah..it’s been 2 years?!). Please tell me you’ll be at Declare again this year?
Theresa Boedeker says
Could relate to this. Live long enough and you will be uprooted. I love your honesty and also looking ahead to the time that smile will show on your face and eyes and you will bloom again. Because it is coming.
This was such a powerful piece. I am grateful for you, for your courage and willingness to share; and for your ability to find words for feelings in a way that both validates where you/I/others are currently…while maintaining hope and forward movement. God is always present, even in the uncertainty, change and struggle. I wish you comfort and peace as you move forward in His presence.
Pearl Allard says
Transplant shock…can definitely identity with that. So beautifully written, Crystal! Absolutely love this.
For what it’s worth, even if you don’t share a photo (or shouldn’t until later), I’d encourage you to consider taking one anyway. So many times I’ve regretted not taking that “before” photo, simply because I’m not sure there will even be an “after.” (How much more faith is required to take that “before” photo!) It’s not until it’s all said and done, I realized I missed the opportunity to showcase something amazing God’s done by showing others the contrast between “before” and “after.”
Blessings to you (and each of us!) as we bloom where we’re transplanted. ?
What a beautiful way to put this. I feel as if your words were meant for me today. Uprooted and pruned to the very edge of me is how I have been feeling lately. Thank you for your words of life that I am in good hands with the Gardener and he has replanted me just like your little tree. May your day bloom bright and the smile reach your eyes because you are serving others and God is using you today!
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
This is beautiful, my friend. I’m writing a bible study about flourishing right now and I love your metaphor of being uprooted. I just had a conversation the other day with a friend along similar lines as she’s been uprooted from a ministry after decades of serving. I just want to encourage you: God is always, always cultivating underground even in the waiting. For His Glory!
Crystal Stine says
That’s such beautiful encouragement, thank you Dorina!
Amy E. Patton says
Thank you Crystal for writing this, and Dorina for your comment. Both spoke deeply to me. My life has been being uprooted for a few years. It’s been so uncomfortable. I haven’t understood or liked much of it one bit. Loneliness is most likely the word I would use. God is replanting my family– it was the purpose of the uprooting, as you said, moving us where we belong. And yet, in this season of the in-between, God is giving me gifts of new life here in this place I am leaving. It is altogether beautiful and uncomfortable. I’m having to choose to embrace it and to accept that growing roots that spread across time and space may actually be able to thrive. Blessing and may joy find it’s way to the bottom of your feet and top of your head.