The Tale of the Tree {Learning to Lean}

We met for tea, although neither of us had planned it. Her sigh drew me in as she sat across the way. We exchanged smiles out of sheer politeness and when our eyes met, we couldn’t break away. It’s as if both of us knew we had to know more. There was story to be shared today.

She waved me over and it surprised me how fast I scrambled to get there. Me, an introvert more than half her age. And she…I still can’t find the words. Her beautiful lines of wisdom glowed grace. And every time I looked in her eyes, I saw His reflection.

Small chat came hard for us both. Still we tried to be courteous. When she asked what my favorite season was, my heart finally broke free.

I responded so quickly I startled her. She sat back in her chair as if she was bracing herself for the response to her next question:

“Why Fall? Don’t you dread what’s to come?”

My smile turned to a chuckle as I recognized the road we were headed on. People have tried to break me of this before and I was up for the challenge.

“Oh no…and I don’t dread winter, either. But let’s just ponder the tree…It knows what lies ahead. And yet it seizes the season it’s in. It keeps its branches outstretched in praise. What’s more, it goes out with vibrancy. As if it’s laughing at the pressure of what’s to come…or simply believes in his Creator enough to know it will make it through. I want to be like that tree. Using every season I’m in for His glory…trusting with vibrancy…

Thoughts trail me as I trace the hem of the napkin folded on my lap. Silence grows thick and I look up to read her face.

She digs deep in my eyes, searching for what I wasn’t yet sure. My cheeks flush as another moment passes by. And as soon as I part my lips to give my explanation another go, her voice breaks.

She gracefully replies,

“All my years I’ve never thought of it like that before.
Thank you for showing me Jesus today.”

Her eyes looked beyond me as she shared of the oak tree in her front yard. The one that wasn’t supposed to be there. When they bought the house, experts mentioned it was near its end. The tree’s seasons would soon expire.

So they planted another next to it. To take its place when that day came.

Only it never did. For decades, those trees shared seasons together.

I lean in to hear the rest. And tears pooled in both our eyes as she described what they looked like today.

The older tree’s branches now surround the younger one. Winds have already stripped the evidence of life from the elder’s tree and yet the smaller one was still brilliantly glistening Autumn. Completely vibrant as it takes shelter under the other. Protected from the elements.

We both sat in silence as we allowed Him to permeate our thoughts. Receive the lesson He had for both of us here. Finally she whispered,

“Nikki, you’re right. I want to be like that tree, too.
One who leans into Jesus…who reflects His vibrancy.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friends, if I had known who she was then, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to follow my heart and join her. I’m afraid I would have missed out on the sweet communion He had planned for me.

She could have told me parts of her story that would have put me in awe. Convinced me of her unwavering faith. Made me anxious to learn more from her.

But she didn’t.

Instead, she shared her own struggles. Some that have followed her through many seasons. And she asked we both pray for each other…so we may grow into this tree.

May we learn to lean…Trust with vibrancy.

And I will be forever grateful to her.
For allowing me to commune with her over tea.

Friends, she showed me Jesus.

How about you? Have you ever been in a mentoring relationship? Who has shown you Jesus lately? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him
as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18

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42 thoughts on “The Tale of the Tree {Learning to Lean}

  1. Dearest Nikki
    You, dear one, showed Jesus to me through sharing your sweet communion with your lady friend. What I have learned as I was maturing in my walk with God, I can immediately see in that beautiful lady: the vulnerability to know and share how little we know and hopeless we are without our Lord. I had to deeply experience that humbling before our Pappa and I still need to do it from day to day. I found that in myself there truly dwells nothing good. All must come from Him to be all for His Glory alone.
    Blessings

    • Love what you shared here, Mia. I have to agree. There’s nothing beautiful within me without Him…He is…the I Am.

      And yes–it’s a daily thing, isn’t it. This denying ourselves. such a process…

      Appreciate you sharing with me! Thank you so much!

  2. We never know, do we, Nikki, what lies ahead in our day, a simple cup of tea that starts out alone and then grows like that tree spreading its arms? What a lovely experience you’ve had, dear friend! You know I’ve mentored young moms and one high school girl during my mentoring experiences. And for me, each relationship has brought me a growing satisfaction that He placed me as a mentor not because I had so much to give but that my mentees had so much to share. I have grown because of them and Him. So, I don’t consider myself the mentor always; often I’m the unsuspecting mentee, but He is always the Spirit Guide. Love you for who you are in Him.

    • What a gift He has given us, Sherrey…this gift that we are all relational people. We can each gleam something from another. No hierarchy in the body of Christ.

      And I love that you have discovered that out of mentorship…it’s what has shied me away from it before –the fear of it being a one-sided give and take relationship. Not so…I should have known God had thought that one through…

      thank you for sharing with me, friend!

  3. Loved this new version of your tree analogy. That you were able to share it with her was a sweet blessing for both of you. For you to share it with us just extends the blessings!! Thanks!

    • You are such a faithful reader, Donna. I HAVE been talking in trees a lot lately! They’ve simply captivated me lately…I can’t escape it. So much to learn here…and I’m so grateful you join me here on the journey. Thank you so much!

  4. Dear Nikki,
    I have been involved in mentoring for years. I started off 30 years ago being mentored by the ladies at Mildred Bible Chapel. I have been blessed to have a mentor in my life as a Chidren Christian Education Church Worker. I have also been so blessed to mentor in our church’s Apples of Gold mentoring program. I heard a message once that has stuck with me. Everyone needs a Paul in their life and a Timothy. I have lived that and believe God has so very blessed me through that philosophy. Thank you fro this wonderful tree analogy. So blessed reading this. Thank you!

    • He truly has made us relational people, hasn’t He, Tina. Love that thought…everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy. YES! That is going to stick with me, too.

      I’m so thrilled you stopped by and shared with me so I knew to pray for you…

      All for Him,
      Nikki

  5. I am so happy that you met her! 🙂 such a blessing! my mentor and I have been meeting weekly (though recently we’ve moved to every other week) for 7yrs. She is no only my mentor, she is my friend, my surrogate mother. I am changed because of her.
    so glad you met this Oak 🙂

    • Weekly for 7 years….I need to let that permeate. WOW! If I met with her weekly for years….there’s no telling what He could do through me 😉 (and you know where I met her, right? On SATURDAY!)

      thanks for stopping by, friend. Off to see if I can like your Facebook page 😉

    • Joy, I hope I’m not the first to tell you, but it needs to be said again:
      You. Are. Vibrant.
      His glory shines upon you even through a backlit screen…so blessed by you.
      Thank you, friend, for sharing this moment with me!

  6. Taking that step, quietly waiting and listening, and then receiving from the wisdom of one who has walked before us…so much to be gained and learned. And this story of the tree, just what I needed. I too love fall, always been my favorite. And this story just affirms that:) Thanks, Nikki!

    • I love that your favorite is fall, too, Christina! I would have guessed summer for you…but that’s your climate talking ; )
      You read my heart so well, friend. It’s no wonder we’re kindred….thank YOU…

  7. “…it seizes the season it’s in. It keeps its branches outstretched in praise. What’s more, it goes out with vibrancy. As if it’s laughing at the pressure of what’s to come…or simply believes in his Creator enough to know it will make it through. I want to be like that tree. Using every season I’m in for His glory…trusting with vibrancy…“ Glad to meet you at Duane’s. Oh, neighbor…I want this. Thank you so much for this insight. It made my day!!!

  8. Nikki…I too want to be a tree…giving glory through all the seasons. We are all part of the body…young and old alike…giving and receiving from one another. I learn much for you young ladies here…I do long for women that are 15-20 yrs down the road from me. lovely story…blessings ~

    • I’m so glad God made relationships that way, Ro. Two-way streets…
      and I learn much from you! What an inspiration you are.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, sharing with me today, friend!

  9. Wow. This is so lovely, so powerful. And, this comes from a woman who just left a lengthy comment on a a friend’s post about how I dread fall!

    I was a young bride when I first came to my church, and most of the members were about my same age. I really missed having older women to mentor and share their wisdom with me. Now that I am one of those older gray-haired women, I hope I can offer myself and all my crazy, mixed-up, broken experiences to encourage someone else along the way.

  10. I fell behind reading my emails this week but when I caught up I knew I had to come back here. Words fail me. I don’t know that I have the right words to express my heart, but I get it. I keep running into this thought that we need one another, that we need to stand shoulder to shoulder, that I have to go back to Titus 2…I know He’s telling me something but I wasn’t getting any deeper than the surface. And here you are. Painting a picture for me. I see it clearly. I get what He’s saying. I’m going to have to go back to Titus 2 with this in my heart so that I can hear Him clearly. Eventually I’ll stop crying long enough to see the words in the book. I know I’ve said this before but I don’t think words really capture my heart, so I apologize for rambling and maybe sounding cliche but you are such a unique gift. The words you share could only come from Him. They are often divinely timed for me (although I’m sure many of your readers can say the same). Praying He continues to fill you as you pour yourself out to this spiritually younger tree.

  11. Nikki, I’ve missed you so much! I’m sorry I haven’t been over to visit in awhile. What an absolutely beautiful thought and analogy. I will definitely strive to be more like the trees. I need it. 🙂 Many blessings to you, my friend!

  12. Nikki, oh, my, the beauty of your words, and the photos, leave me in tears. Just stunning, friend. I will be keeping these words–the words you share about fall–and the description of the two trees, close to my heart. So blessed by you. Thank you.

  13. Oh Oh! Loved this Nikki! At the end I finally took a breath I was so enthralled that I had been holding my breath. I love fall too! What a beautiful picture of mentoring as Jesus designed.

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