If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? A BIG tree? A small tree? A short tree?
A tall tree?
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would others see? A tree with a lot of fruit, crazy roots or a few random shoots?
If you were a tree what colors would your leaves display? A tree with green leaves, red leaves, black leaves or those with a deep blue-gray?
If you were a tree, where would you stay? A tree in a forest? A tree on an island? A tree all by itself in a desert? Or a tree on a savanna giving shade to a lion?
Whatever kind of tree that you are, just be the kind of tree that you are.
I know, being US is easier said than done. The gravity of cultural, familial, societal, and religious norms that impress upon us, trying to suppress who we really are, desperately trying to mold us into robotic chia pets are fierce. You can hear their voices say:
Walk this way Talk this way
Pray this way
Learn this way
Interpret scriptures this way
Love this way
Lead this way Feel this way
Run this way
Stay away Look this way
Unfortunately the end result of these burdensome directives, both implicit and explicit, can potentially contaminate our soil/soul, robbing us of necessary nutrients that leave us with withered leaves, an emaciated trunk, and dried up fruit.
I am not saying directives, truth, norms, and knowledge are bad in and of themselves. What I am saying is that they could wreak havoc to the human heart for two reasons. Firstly, not every truth claim, norm, etc is valid or beneficial. You have probably heard the expression, “knowledge is power” but the thought provoking philosopher Foucault reminds us that “power is knowledge.” In other words, those who are in position of power dictate what is truth, the norm, etc. The problem is some truths are not meant to be soaked up by your roots. It might be their truth for their tree but not healthy for your tree. Therefore, a healthy hermeneutic of curiosity and questioning is encouraged.
Secondly, if it is truth, it could be oppressive if it is given for the wrong reason, in the wrong season, from the wrong persons, in the wrong kind of way.
I digress, the point is you are different and unique and have every right to question the status quo, especially when it comes to who you are, what you like, how you express yourself and what you are called to do in the world (keep in mind all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial).
Even God digs diversity: “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11-12).
There are actually over 100,000 different species of trees in this world. Just as there are diverse trees, animals, planets, plants, bugs etc, there are, and should be, a tremendous amount of diversity of people and their creative expressions.
There are only two experiences you can have when comparing yourself:
You either feel less than or better than
Grow into the tree you were meant to be!
As Oscar Wilde said:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
Get Creative: If you have children, ask them to draw themselves as a tree and then ask them what each part of the tree represents. Or ask them to draw the family as trees and do the same. It is amazing what kinds of neat insights and conversations you can have 🙂