Over the past couple of weeks I’ve posted a couple pictures that have had some very heavy meaning in my life. I’ve posted a lot of pics on social media…. but these 2 are ones that truly have a lot of “back story” to them.
The first one I posted was on April 19th and it was this one…..
If you aren’t familiar with what this is…..it is “The Survivor Tree” in Oklahoma City. April 19th was the 21st anniversary of the day when 168 people were murdered in a terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. This day is one I remember vividly…as do most from our area…. You remember where you were..what you were doing…at the exact moment of the blast……I also remember the days after. The news coverage…the talks with friends…watching and hoping for a survivor to be found. This is very similar to the way I remember the days leading up to and after my own tragedy. But the Oklahoma City bombing impacted a whole city, state, country…and more. The families torn apart, the lives lost…the lives forever changed. That day….was horrific.
On this particular anniversary, so many were posting pics and comments…”We will never forget”…was the resounding cry of so many people. It is a comfort to families and friends of those who didn’t make it and those who were a part of this tragedy to hear that people won’t forget. Won’t forget what they went through…won’t forget their loved ones…or the lives they lived.
When I posted this photo…it was with no words attached….just the pic. I know, I know…so NOT like me! But I didn’t have words. Not at that moment… Not yet. There were so many photos that represented that day…but this is the one photo that resonated with me…..
Why? Because to me..this picture doesn’t just represent that day….It’s also about what has happened since that day! It’s about survival!!
This resonates with me. This tree wasn’t anything anyone paid attention to before. It grew in the concrete jungle of the parking area and wasn’t really even tended to. But then….even with glass and shredded pieces of the Murrah building embedded into it’s bark…..this tree….kept growing. Not only did it keep growing…but it became a symbol of hope…of survival…because it “made it” through this even and has gone on to grow into a beautiful tree.
This is what I believe to be part of my message. It isn’t always about what happened the day…the moment…tragedy strikes. It’s about the moments and the choices we have to make after the tragedy!!! There are tiny moments and small choices….that can seem so insignificant in themselves….but when you put them all together…it adds up to parts of your story…your survival.. It’s about how this tree…continued to grow…continued to bloom…continued to survive. It didn’t wilt away in the difficult situation it had been through. It continued to seek the sunlight, the soil…and the water it needed to grow. It didn’t give up. It
I truly believe…it’s not about me…it’s not about the tree……It’s about the way God uses each of us…to reach others…to show hope through our stories. Sometimes…it’s about others hearing that I can still get up and have have a life…not just a regular one….but a wonderful, joy-filled life! AFTER a tragedy! Just as this tree shows there is still MORE……room for growth….a place for beauty….a way to thrive….even after what may seem like the most horrific thing in the world has happened to you….. Sometimes…I’ve come to realize…just getting out of bed…getting remarried…having more children….still praising the God who allowed the tragedy to happen….is enough to give others hope that there is a way for them to get to the other side of whatever difficult situation they are facing!
If you are still here…..if you are still breathing….THERE.IS.MORE!!! And even better…it can be OH.SO.GLORIOUS!
BUT….you must CHOOSE to see it as such! You must CHOOSE to look for the silver linings…. YOU must CHOOSE…to continue to live.
Is it easy??
Well…maybe this next picture I posted will answer that…
I’m just keeping it real.
Yes…I’m strong….I see that now…even though I haven’t always felt it. Yes…I know I’m a survivor….even when I haven’t always seen myself as one! Yes…..my life is awesome in SO MANY AMAZING ways…..but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still hard.
Yes….I am thankful to be here…to be where I am in life…with my faith, my family…and all that is happening around me.
BUT….I grow tired…and weary…and even worn sometimes. Sometimes I just don’t want to any more. Don’t want to “what”? You might ask….. Anything. Sometimes I just am tired of making the choices I need to…..in order to continue to survive.
So….What do you do when those times hit?
Well… Here are my “go-tos”. (Not in any specific order!)
1.) You allow yourself to be tired. There. I said it. Give in and feel what you are feeling. Go ahead and realize you need a break. You can be tired….be sad…be mad at the situation…….whatever it is you are feeling…FEEL IT!
2.) You HAVE to remember….IT’S OKAY TO BE DOWN….BUT IT ISN’T OKAY TO STAY THERE! Ask anyone who I talk to and they will probably tell you…I say this… A LOT! Because it’s true. You have to allow yourself time to feel what you feel. But you can’t “unpack and stay there” as I’ve seen some posters talk about! You must find a way to get past those feelings and start looking for good…for hope…and feeling other feelings too…not just the ones that have got you down!
3.) Call someone in your “safe”circle of friends. Be real with someone and let them know you’re struggling with being strong. Let them know you are weary and need some help. This is hard to do…especially if you are a giver. Don’t let the fact that others view you as strong….let you feel like you can’t be down or have a time when you are the one who needs lifting up!!! It’s okay…it’s even biblical! “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
4.) PRAY! Remember….God is with you…He has never left you! He doesn’t expect you to be strong all the time. He has told you to allow HIM to carry your burdens! “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19. I emphasized the DAILY…part. Let that sink in…He is there for you daily!!!
5.) Remember….if you try to do it all in your own strength….you will always feel weary. It isn’t something we were meant to do. We cannot be strong, all on our own….for the rest of our lives. We were created to rely on the strength the Lord gives us. And He does….give it to us. I know…because in all the times I’ve felt strong…yet tired…HE has lifted me out of it! He has carried me in the times when I could no longer carry the weight of my life…. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31.
So….use the POWER He gives you. Make the choices to go on….but know…that it’s okay to take a break…to ask for help….to take the “super cape” off for a while. Allow others to minister to your soul. Refill the cup of your spirit until there is once more…an overflow and abundance to give to others! That is where I am. I am allowing others to fill my cup again…. That is what has taken me this long…to be able to put the words….with the pictures.
Love you friends…and I pray you release your burdens to Him who loves you so….and know I will pray for you as well…that He will guide the perfect one to you…to help you refill your cup…so we can both give out of overflow and abundance again!