Trees and Roots and Who I Really Am

 In identity, purpose

I’ve been pretty candid on this blog before about my love for counseling and my belief in it’s importance. Once I got past the silly stigma that I was a bad leader for needing such an exercise, it’s honestly been one of my better decisions. Recently, in a session, I found myself talking openly to my counselor about my struggle with my own worth. It was a heavy convo, belied by the bright, cheery office we were sitting in. I’m a good talker, but my counselor has a way of pushing me past the facade level of conversation and into the places of pain.

This day, it was about trees. Yes, trees.

I’m an overachiever. I like to achieve. I feel the most useful and, yeah, I’ll say it, worthy when I’m achieving. Which is great…until I’m not achieving.

In times when the phone stops ringing, my hands stop writing and my song stops singing, I feel lost. Worthless. Empty.

This is where trees come in.

My counselor started it. She asked me to liken myself to a tree, beautiful and full of blooming flowers. She asked me how I felt when those blooms were brightest and most full. I answered immediately: alive, purposeful, worthy. She asked me what then do I feel like when the branches are bare – not a bloom to be seen. This time, my answer came slower because it felt deeper, more painful: unseen, unworthy, useless.

Still, I thought. Still. I’m 37-years-old and still dealing with the noise of my own life’s worth. And yet, there I was, weeping over a tree because the vision of it hit me harder than anything had in a long time.

Slowly, with my counselor’s help, I started to wonder about how I could find a way to love the tree/me, blooms or no blooms. I was reminded that in times of bare branches, there are roots, deep roots, that are still doing work under the surface. She told me that those roots are part of what lays the foundation for the tree to even have those blooming seasons.

And it all started to become clearer.

This imaginary tree taught me so, so much about myself in just a moment. I immediately knew I needed this visual reminder and had my friend, artist Greg Francis, sketch it for me. When I look at this picture, I’m challenged, encouraged, humbled and, most importantly, reminded. I know when I look at this tree that I am not only important when the branches of my life are seemingly full of blooms. I know now that my life is moving forward, growing and mattering, in season and out.

Every time I see this picture, I’m reminded that no matter the season, I am worthy. I’m worthy because God says I am, and because His ways and times and plans aren’t the same as mine. I trust the unseen. I trust the process. I trust my God.

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