One week after my son was born, my husband left for several weeks of training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. As one would expect, I needed to call in some reinforcements so I could take care of the toddler, the baby, my recovery, the house, and so on...
My mother-in-law was able to come stay with me briefly for a couple days right after my husband left, and then shortly after she left, my WONDERFUL grandfather allowed an amazing lady to come stay and help me out for two whole weeks. (And she is pretty wonderful, herself!) This was such a blessing in it's own right, because I have never had the luxury of living close to my relatives, and this gave my grandmother and I an opportunity to spend time together that we normally wouldn't have. But that is another story for another blog... :)
During her visit she was reading a book, entitled "Legacy of a Pack Rat." (I know I have referenced this book in a previous blog--See 'God Bless All Mothers.') One night she read a poem out of the book that brought her to tears. Here it is:
He Fell on the Sidewalk
He fell on the sidewalk...
I saw him fall,
too drunk to walk
he could only crawl
to a scraggly tree;
and with help of that tree he got on his feet.
In my heart always,
God, please help me see
he got on his feet
there was A Tree!
I didn't want to tell her as she read the poem aloud to me that day--- I didn't get it. I mean, I understood that the "tree" was a reference to Calvary, but I didn't get what was so moving about it that it would bring her to tears. And I like to consider myself cultured to things such as these, so it has bothered me the better of two years that I was not moved like my grandmother was.
Nothing better to turn on a lightbulb than a little life experience...
There were a couple of mothers from my daughter's last dance class that I, well,(trying to be P.C. here...)didn't particularly care for. It wasn't that they were mean, nasty people. They just did things and acted ways that I disagreed with.
---Does anyone here still watch Friends? Because I am about to throw a reference in just for you ;)---
You may henceforth refer to me as "Judgy von Holier-than-thou."
One of the mothers had four kids: an older boy, three-year-old twins, and a 7 month old. The older boy we never saw much because he was at school, but she would tell us these horrible stories about his behavioral problems. Her three year old boy ran around kicking the 7 month old baby (and pushing mine!) and the girl in Sammi's class would randomly throw herself onto the floor in screaming fits like a normal three year old girl would do---if that three-year-old were on steroids. The complete lack of control that mother had of her children disrupted the entire tone of the classroom, and the waiting area for that matter. It possibly affected my homelife too. Honestly, Sammi never yelled at me until she saw those twins yelling at their mother. I remember actually feeling relieved when they weren't at dance class.
The other mother was not a bad mother--she was just chatty. Her husband is deployed as well, and she always spilled her guts about everything she had heard was going on over there. Now, this may just have been me being overly sensitive, but I hate it when people talk openly in public spaces about private information. If you know a soldier who was KIA--good for you. That is not the business of the random collection of people we have in the dance class, and truthfully, I feel like peole just like to flaunt that kind of information when they have it.
Anyway, let's fast forward to the point where Judgy von Holier-than-thou becomes Sorry von Eats-her-words.
As the dance class progressed, I began to learn more about these women's personal stories.
The first mother was raising four children as her own, but the 7 month old was the only baby she had actually birthed. Her oldest three were adopted from her sister, who was having mental and drug abuse issues.
The second mother had just lost a three month old baby, and her husband was deployed one month following their loss.
So now I'm sure you're wondering, why did I share these women's stories and how do they relate to the poem?
The drunken man in the poem would have never been able to get back on his feet without the scraggly tree. But why was the tree there in the first place? Because God knew the man would need it and provided a customized aide for him in that exact moment of weakness. People often speculate that God is punishing them on earth for their wrongdoings, but there is only one judgement day. Right now He is watching us in our drunken stupor, withholding His judgement, and trying to get us back on our feet by planting trees.
As a follower of Christ, I have been given the very same power to plant such trees. Too bad I am more of a lumberjack.
I was so busy judging what a "bad mother" I thought first lady was that I failed to see she was acting as a "tree" for her sister. Heaven knows, I love my nieces and nephews, but I have a hard enough time dealing with my own children screaming at me, and I certainly wouldn't manage well if it were somebody else's child. And with my hoity-toity attitude and up-turned nose, I was just hacking that mother away at the roots.
I was so huffy at the second lady for spreading sensitive information that I didn't realize WE were supposed to be her tree. I can't imagine how much hurt and lonliness she must have felt--all she needed was a listening ear, a chance to feel "normal." I just left that poor lady down there on the sidewalk, so to speak.
So now, nearly two years after hearing the poem for the first time, I finally get it. Over two thousand years ago, God knew that I was going to be the secretly judgemental person that I am today (along with a laundry list of other things I will also save for another blog!) So, He planted a tree for me in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ so I could grab hold of Him and stand back on my feet.
And because He did that for me, the least I can do for Him is this: I will be a tree for other people in need to lean on. I know I'm not perfect and may sway a little in the wind, but I'm still going to stand. In fact, I may never be anything more than a scraggly tree...
but I'll do my darndest not to be a lumberjack anymore.