The desire to survive is one of the greatest strengths that we have. There have been times in my life when, like the tree above, I have felt stuck in the concrete jungle, alone, and hanging on tenaciously to hope. It has been my steadfast belief that my life is guided by a power greater than me that keeps me upright and prospering even in difficult places and moments.
I was reminded of that as I looked at that tree flourishing against all odds in a space all by itself, unaware that others think that it should not be still standing. Too many of us think that we must be surrounded by others who think like us or look like us for us to be successful. But it is the ability to thrive in inhospitable spaces and places, often with no one else around us, that defines our courage and our determination.
In contrast to others in my town who remained there all of their lives, I was one of tow people in my family that left my hometown. People told me that I was crazy to move to a place where I knew no one and had no family. They thought that I would get hurt or someone would take advantage of me. I was tempted to listen to the naysayers and just stay home and live like everyone around me, but I was so poor that I had stolen food from a neighbor. I somehow knew that there was a better way to live.
I shut my ears to people calling my dreams crazy and me crazy, too. I have found that if no one thinks that your dreams are crazy, then, maybe it’s time to rethink them. I knew somehow that I could survive in the right social soil, watered by positive people, and every once in a while, having my thoughts of failure pruned away into more acceptable thoughts of yes, I can.
But, most important, I knew that I was not the source of my increase. I knew that, just as it is with flowers in a garden, that one person can plant, another can water, but it is God that does the increasing. I had to learn not to follow after every doctrine or philosophical thought, and to stay focused on the biblical truths I had learned as a girl when I gave my life and heart to God.
As Ephesians 4:14-15 states, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Just like the tree in the picture, I have survived against all the odds, including two episodes of domestic violence in which I almost died. With another birthday behind me this past weekend, number 67, I feel like I am leaning into the wind sometimes, but not defeated by the storms of life. Against all the beliefs of others and being seen as weird, I am still living life to the fullest, still trusting in God, and still believing that no matter the spaces and places I find myself, with help from Heaven, I will continue to stand.