-Testimony guest post submitted by Kari Tyree
Where I live, the Texas mountain laurels bloom mostly during February. Full-grown, they are gorgeous trees covered with purple blossoms that make the air smell like grape SweeTARTS. Wouldn’t you want to be that beautiful, if you were a tree?
One February, I held my daughter’s hand as she took tenuous steps along the rock border of our small raised garden bed. While watching her take slow, careful steps, I was reminded of something that happened almost nine years previously when I was in grad school and felt extremely unsure of myself.
At the time, I struggled with anxiety. During one Christmas break, I visited my mom and dad and went to their church for the Christmas Eve service. When it was time for Communion, we had a moment of silent, individual prayer in the peaceful sanctuary. My prayer went something like, “God, I know I need to be more like the woman who twirls around in big, flowing skirts at the top of bright, green hills with blue skies all around, her face shining as she looks up and laughs at the clouds. That woman is so exuberant and full of life. I need to be like that, but I’m not. I don’t trust You enough. I’m so anxious all the time.”
Then, amidst my insecure ramblings, a vivid picture, like a painting, came to mind. It was a picture of a young woman wearing dark-coloured clothes that fit her well but were not flowing skirts. She was walking along a pathway that wasn’t lit very well, and the whole background was fairly dark, too. But the woman was not alone. She was walking slowly while holding a hand whose owner was not visible. On seeing this image, I felt like weeping with relief. A sense of freedom came over me. God showed me this picture to tell me that, though I was going along slowly and didn’t have an outgoing, exuberant personality, I trusted Him and walked faithfully as the woman He made me to be. Though I was careful, I was just as beautiful as the bright, spinning woman on the hill.
When my daughter walked with careful steps along the garden border, she trusted me to catch her and to guide her in the new adventure she’d discovered. She was being completely herself and was completely lovely while doing it. If she’d been running along recklessly, I probably have been a bit frustrated, and she would have been more likely to hurt herself. There are benefits to being deliberate and cautious, even if they come with the burden of anxiety, at times.
Some people are quick to settle in, establish “roots,” find their niches, make friends, and adjust to new roles. Some are slower. The Texas mountain laurel is notorious for being a slow-growing tree that may not bloom for several years. We have one in our yard that we planted almost right away after we moved to our new house in our new city. After one year, there was barely any visible growth at all and certainly no blooming. My husband told me, when I was feeling a bit down regarding my ability to settle into my life as a new mom in a new place, that I was like the mountain laurel: slow to become established, but full of the potential to produce beautiful blossoms after a time.
When I look closely at our little, slow-growing tree, I can see new, bright green leaves at the ends of some of the older, darker green branches. When I look closely at my life, I can see improvement and growth—even growth as I move away from anxiety towards trusting God. Perhaps the growth is small, but it is there, nonetheless. Praise God, who always holds my hand and causes all kinds of growth—whether fast or slow, big or small, joyous in purple blooms, or deliberate in tender stems and leaves!
About Kari Tyree
Tyree lives in Texas with her husband and children. She homeschools her children and enjoys tinkering on the piano, crafting, reading, and (mostly) writing in her free time. Visit her at facebook.com/karityree.writer and at karityree.com.