The tree on our hill anchored the corner of the back yard. Morning light illuminated its leaves. Cool shadows were cast in the afternoon sun. Tall and straight, it sprouted long before houses built up in our neighborhood.
Last weekend while we were away, our kids messaged to say the tree had fallen in the night. Broken and splintered, the falling trunk took down several more trees as it crashed to the ground. What appeared to be tough and invincible will now be a chopped up pile of firewood.
After staring at the mess of logs and branches (and a damaged fence), I took a look inside myself. I realized I put a ton of pressure on myself to stand like that tree. Steady and stable. A permanent part of the landscape of our family. Strong enough to survive every season. Yet it’s foolish to believe I can escape failure, suffering, or change. It’s impossible to shield my kids from every danger, meet every need, or teach them all they need to know. The Bible says pride comes before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) Believing the lie that I have to be—and am able to be—a perfect, invincible mom is destructive to my family and myself.
I have “fallen” hard from pride when circumstances were hard and outside my control. When I sinned or made mistakes, feelings of failure spiraled into anxiety and depression. Fear of rejection was a barrier to close, authentic friendships. The urge for order and control made me bossy, critical, and stressed out. Just like our tree failed to stand on that hill, I let emotions and struggles knock me down.
How do I guard my heart from pride and the fear that comes with it? I have to put down deep roots to stand firm no matter what comes:
Rooted in Jesus: I put down roots of faith in the One who is my source. I rely on his strength, not mine. His wisdom instead of my limited understanding. His transforming work instead of my own weak efforts to keep it together. I depend on him for everything instead of going it alone. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Rooted in gratitude: I can’t praise God and myself at the same time! If I declare he’s the Giver of every good thing, he gets all the credit. When I thank him for my kids, they’re put back in his hands where they belong. Naming the ways he’s generous and cares for our family takes the burden to provide from my shoulders. A grateful heart sets me free from self-sufficiency, complaining, and worry. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)
Rooted in love: God describes his love as lavish. Sacrificial. Unconditional. Surpassing knowledge. Constant. A love like that is safe. He’s not going to leave if I mess up. Fear of punishment or rejection is washed away. Pride and pressure to perform turn to worship and joy. Captivated by his love and the beauty of his holiness, my eyes are taken off myself and fixed on him. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
My prayer is for God to fill both me and you with his love and power. In him we can stand firm no matter what comes. He’ll turn our pride to humility, our self-reliance to trust in our Father, and our fear to peace and confidence for the future.