The Tree

I met this tree the other day
She came upon me
as I went my way
We nodded in gentle assent
The way that strangers do
But then I turned
And looked again

I asked in wonder
Or maybe it was
an anguished cry
From deep within
Or maybe those are
one and the same
Because what I wonder
Most often lately is
how long
do You even hear me at all?

And there in that place
Where the wooded path
Met the open meadow
He stopped my heart
And told me to see.

this lifeless tree
Cracked and twisted
Pain and anguish
Etched into her soul
bursting with new life

She’s given herself in death
I said to myself.
Allowed a new thing
To sprout from the ruins
Of all she used to be.

Wait, He said
His hand pressing on my chest
Look again.
She is not dead.
That new life is hers
That strength is hers
That hope is hers

I looked at her
From every angle
It made no sense
It was not possible
And yet
there she was
And oh my heart cried
She is so



The Starbucks guy smiles as he hands the drink to the woman who is at least fifteen years older than I am. He smiles at her in a sweet way, a twinkle in his eye. I note it, because I know myself. I know that not five minutes later when he hands me my drink he will smile at me in exactly the same way and I will want to think he’s flirting with me.

I never used to consider such things. I didn’t need or want that kind of attention from a perfect stranger, much less someone so significantly younger than I am. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to feel this desperate to be seen.

I miss him. Every day. All the time. I miss our walks. I miss knowing that I would be missed, if I didn’t come home at a certain time.

(I’m already thinking of deleting this post. Because these feelings are so wretchedly vulnerable.)

The roots of this invisibility cloak go very deep. To the little girl whose world was turned upside down one evening before she had even finished the first grade.

Eight years later, the Holy Spirit spoke so loudly I couldn’t miss it. He saw me. He wanted me. And I was scared. Because I knew. I knew there was no such thing as a casual relationship with the Savior of my soul. But He was irresistible and so I stopped resisting.

Everything was different in an instant.

And everything was the same.

I was still the same boy-crazed girl desperately wanting to be seen. Even as I got to know the Lover of My Soul, I kept looking to pubescent boys to tell me I was loved.

Eve was taken from Adam’s side. She was created to be his “help meet” – in the Hebrew, his “Ezer”. It means “one who helps”. The same word is used of God, as in Psalm 33:20, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” It is no subservient role that God gave to Eve. It is a holy calling. It is to image our LORD; to be there for someone, to meet them in their deepest needs.

God designed me to be that for my husband. I am bone of his bone. Flesh of his flesh. It’s not just about physical intimacy. It’s two souls entwined, stitched together. It is a grafting of one to another. Once a branch has been successfully grafted onto a tree, the only way the two will be separated is with the violent hacking away of the layers that connect them.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:6)

That word, “separate”, is “chorizo” in the Greek and is more accurately translated “put asunder.” It is the same word used to describe the tearing of flesh in the Old Testament. It is a word that speaks of violence. This is what the prophet Malachi is referring to when he says the man who leaves the wife of his youth “does violence to the one he should protect.” (Mal 2:16)

I type all of this with no small amount of anxiety. I do not want to cross boundaries. Private matters should stay private. Please do not read too much into my words. I am speaking of an emotional, spiritual violence. All of this is to try to help you understand what I cannot really put into words. The hurt that never stops hurting. The grief that threatens to drown me in my own tears. The reason that I look to total strangers to tell me I am still here.

All those years ago, God spoke my name and I accepted His invitation. The Holy Spirit sealed me and I entered into a covenant that cannot be broken. I am His beloved. I know this. I preach it to myself throughout the day. Thank God. Thank you my God. Truly. I cannot imagine how much more lost I would be without You.

These two truths live side by side. The wonder and beauty of God’s love for me. And the aching horror of walking around as one who has been torn asunder.

This is what it is to live here in this fallen, hurting world. If you find yourself wondering, does being a Christian mean never feeling any “bad” emotions? No. Don’t let anyone sell you that emotional prosperity gospel. Jesus felt all of the feelings and He WAS God. And yet. Because He is my helper, I am not alone, even if sometimes it feels that way. Feelings are not facts. And even if I never recover from this grief, even if I feel the void until the day I die… it will get better. Because there is another life after this one that is infinitely better and longer. And you better believe I remind myself of that every single day.

Whatever grief you might be carrying, if you’ve gotten this far in my long sad ramble, please remember this above everything else:

If you are in Christ, better days are coming.

(If you have not recognized His voice calling your name yet, consider that this might be one of the ways He’s calling to you. And if you want to know more, please ask. There’s nothing that helps me rediscover joy more than to talk to people about the relentless love of Jesus.)