I dedicate this blog post to women (and men) who are growing in hard places. I know some of you–battling cancer, healing from abuse, keeping families together, enduring pain–broken marriages, lost children, suffering bodies. Take a look at that photo on the right…
That’s you. You grow girl!
My father has repeated a yearly ritual for most of his eighty years. Each spring, when the snow finally melts and the soil warms up and dries out, he plants corn seed in the rich, dark earth. Maybe it’s much less of a ritual and more of a religion, because faith is required to wait, believing that those small, dried triangularly-shaped, orange kernels will bring forth tall, green stalks loaded with ears of yellow corn by fall.
In mid July, when I complain that the hot temperature is unbearable and the high humidity is suffocating, my dad smiles and says, “It sure makes corn grow.” He cultivates and sprays the growing stalks, nurturing the crop through months of waiting. But truthfully, the corn grows out of the soft earth without much coaxing.
The trees that grow out of the dry, rocky mountainside have my respect. How did the roots know where to find life-sustaining water? How did the tiny shoot find that sliver of sunlight between the crushing rock walls and reach up toward it? When the winds raged and swept down from the heights, how did it remain standing, unbroken? Imagine the sheer survival of those early years, until one day sturdy limbs became a bird’s home and spreading leaves became a weary hiker’s haven. Growth seemed impossible, but that tree bested the odds.
If that tree describes how you feel right now, you may be growing in a hard place. Keep reaching upward toward Hope; keep pushing roots downward into Grace. You are the one that the prophet Isaiah described in the Old Testament–the one planted in the ashes of a ruined city: “They will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (61:3 NLT).