Pride and the Pink Tree
Sometimes the lessons we learn in life come in the most unexpected ways...
I like to manage my own life. I like things to look just the way I want them to look, including my house, especially the front of my house. I like to wave at my neighbors as they go off to work each morning. I take a leisurely stroll to my mailbox, coffee mug in hand, walking amid my beautiful rosebushes. This is one of the simple pleasures in my life, but an important dally ritual none-the-less.
That is until the Pink Tree.
My neighbor’s Pink Tree (although I could not tell it was pink at the time) was delivered one day, not as a young sapling, but as a full grown tree. It was planted in their yard, just a quarter-inch away from my property line, so it legally was not “trespassing" my yard. Yet its proximity to my house felt like an invasion of personal space. However, my real dislike for the tree came months later. As I walked to my front door, I started noticing little leaves on the ground, the next day I saw even more. But the end of the week, my driveway was covered with these little green invaders. Not only was this tree a dinosaur, but it was a deciduous dinosaur!
My attempt to sweep up the leaves was hopeless. Whatever headway I made in the morning was lost by the afternoon as the continuous stream of leaves flooded my yard. I wanted to contact some agency to express my outrage. I had to be able to find some clause somewhere that would demonstrate that this tree was “disturbing the peace.”
Everyday that tree and I engaged in a silent war. Since the only way to win a silent war is to force your opponent to fold first, my only strategy was to suck it up and suffer in silence. It was only a matter of time before the tree’s “shedding” was over and then my life could go back to the way it had been before.
I silently waited it out until the last leaf had finally fallen. I walked past the now barren tree, and gloated victoriously with a prideful chuckel,
Is that all you’ve got?
Thinking the war was over, I finally returned to my morning ritual, greeting my neighbors, while getting my mail. I sighed as I looked at my clean yard. My beautiful, clean yard, without that nasty mess of fallen deciduous leaves. At last, my peaceful paradise had returned.
My victory cry was still ringing in my ears when I looked up and saw newly formed tiny pink flower buds on the Pink Tree.
Nope, the adversarial voice of the tree seemed to be saying, I got more.
Checkmate. I was forced to admit defeat. Not only did I have to endure the leaves, but now I would have to deal with all the those falling flowers! I could not possibly co-exist with this tree for years to come.
I finally admitted my true feelings. I positively hate that tree!
Then came the Storm
Then one day a terrible storm came. The wind was so intense that is split a tree at the end of my street, causing it to be uprooted and fall. Unbelievable! I peered outside my window and saw the Pink Tree bending in the wind. Finally I thought, with every gust of wind, This is it! It's coming down! My torment has finally ceased!
Elated, I prayed, God is that you? Are really going to remove this tree from my life!
God answered, Yes, I will remove it, but it is not the Pink Tree I am removing, it is your need to control it!
Our life situations often seem to be about Pink Trees. We think that if God would just remove these hurtful, irritating situations from our lives, then everything would be hunky-dory.
On the contrary, trials are the tools in which God uses to expose our character flaws and crack our hearts open.
The Pink Tree was nothing more than a reflection of my desperate need to control my life. It symbolized my obsession with having things exactly the way I wanted them and exposed my inability to cope when things did not.
I was deeply changed that stormy night.
I saw how I had been trying to control just about everything in my life and that I rarely allow God to handle things for me. I understood that my irritation wasn’t a result from the Pink Tree, rather, It was a consequence of my attitude toward the Pink Tree.
I could not believe that I had judged that Pink Tree so unfairly, and that I was capable of disliking something so intensely that God had created in my life. I repented for my need to control and unfair judgments. I forgave the Pink Tree for its role in this drama. There would be no more battles. As I expressed my humility and she bent in acceptance.
I made peace with my enemy and we became friends.
The summer came and went, and soon fall brought the next round of falling leaves. A friend who was visiting commented on all the leaves in my driveway, exclaiming, “Look how beautiful! This reminds me of fall back East!” I laughed to myself.
Actually, the leaves were beautiful, but not as beautiful as the little pink flowers.
Pink Trees with legs
Some of the greatest heartaches and trials come from those closest to us. In my earlier prayers, I always prayed for God to remove my pink trees, especially those that came with legs. Essentially, I wanted the thorns in my flesh to be removed. I want all those irritating people to simply stop irritating me!
Every time I felt my temperature rise and my defense mechanisms kick in, I heard that still small voice,
This is just another pink tree. Ask Me what I want you to see in your heart so that you can be set free.
Truly, I have come to realize that most of my spiritual growth has been achieved through my hardest relationships. Loving unconditionally isn’t something we are born knowing how to do. Instead, we are born with self-centered natures. As we grow older, we realize that learning how to love is the greatest treasure we will ever find on earth.
Paradoxically, unconditional love can only be learned in an unloving environment. Loving our enemies is where love begins.
Most people are unaware of how their actions effect us. It is in these conflicted relationships that the most personal growth occurs. Sometimes I imagine going up to the people who offend me the most saying,
“You have no idea what a blessing you have been to me!”
“Really?” I am sure they would respond, confused.
“More than you will ever know!” I would admit to them.
I now truly treasure every Pink Tree God sends my way. I anticipate the transformation that will eventually take place in my heart, and appreciate the little pink flowers that are sure to bloom.
Lisa Hamilton/ The Hamilton Post