“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree brings forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit”Luke 6:43-45 (KJV)
I think about this passage often. What type of woman of God do I want to be? What kind of character do I want to put into this world to inspire others? What gifts (or fruit) has God given me, and how can I make them bloom within my spirit to feed the community around me? How can I offer guidance, inspiration, beauty, and the message of God to others?
I was reminded of how I wanted to show up in the world many times over the last year, during the pandemic and throughout some personal changes. Like everyone else, I had changes, transitions, and pivoting moments to endure as the world shut down.
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For me, it was my wedding day. At the age of 35, I had waited many years to find the man God wanted me to share my life with. Reaching this age and finding my person, I knew it was worth the wait.
Postponing Our Wedding
Our wedding was planned for April 26th, and our state shut down on March 16th. For four weeks, we scrambled to figure out a plan without knowing the future. I was crushed, confused, tired, and angry. Why, after all these years, when it was my turn, did this have to happen?
I had watched so many before me have their day go on without a hitch—maybe little hiccups here and there, but not a worldwide shutdown. So why, Lord, why, when I had waited this long, did mine get crushed?
As I asked God why this was happening, I also felt guilty and selfish. It was a wedding, we could figure this out, many people were experiencing far worse situations. As I went through it, that was my battle: “Why me?” vs. “It will be OK, we can figure this out.”
Trusting the Process
During the replanning, I was reminded by someone close to me that I have FAITH and I believe in God and need to TRUST the process. Once I was reminded of this, my perspective slowly began to change. If I quiet my thoughts and look with clear eyes, an open heart, and a discerning mind, I can see God is NOT taking something from me; God wants to TEACH ME something.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of Luke 6:43-45.
I am the tree of Stephanie. What fruit do I bear; what fruit do I share? How do I want to show up in this time, in this world? How do I set the tone of my marriage with the situation in front of us?
So my perspective shifted. Here is my message:
On the night my fiancé proposed. I said YES, with the understanding that we would start our life together promising to have one another’s back no matter what, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE. As we navigated changes to our plans and all the emotions that went along with them, we experienced our “worse” moments, and we were each other’s “better” in those moments.
Those better moments are often times when life is good and full of happiness. But last year challenged that. Throughout 2020, my fiancé and I were each other’s BETTER. As long as we remain each other’s BETTER, the worse moments cannot break us.
As we navigate this ever-changing life together, trusting in our faith, trusting in one another, we will always come out BETTER and STRONGER.
The Fruits that I Bear
Now my tree bears the fruits of perspective, trust, leading, courage, and strength:
1. Perspective. For myself and to help others. When you think GOD has shut a door or canceled your plans, pause, open your eyes, mind, and heart, and invite GOD into the conversation so you can understand the plan he has for you. Share this approach with your community to help others with their perspective.
2. Trust. This is one of the hardest, especially when we feel no control. Yet we have little control over anything in life, so trust must become a strength. Trust the process, the gifts you were given, and the people you share your life with. Trust that you will overcome life’s challenges. At the next high moment, the peak will be more glorious as you climb out of that valley.
3. Leading. Look to how you can lead and inspire others with your words, actions, and choices. Jesus is our leader. His example sets the tone for us; now let’s set the tone for others. People are always watching us; let’s use our fruit to inspire them.
4. Courage and Strength. Have courage and strength to really lead, trust, and shift your perspective, to dig yourself out when you feel weak, defeated, angry, or sorrowful. Lift yourself up with the help of God and your partner, family, or friends, and enjoy life’s moments, both good and bad.
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These fruits of perspective, trust, leading, courage, and strength have helped me become the woman I am today. They’ve helped me work with my husband to get through a challenging year. Together, we’ve talked through the pivoting moments, looking at what was taken away and what was given to us.
What Kind of Tree Are You?
It is my hope that you will shift your perspective and discover your fruit, especially amid turmoil and chaos. How can you show up and be like Jesus? How can you be someone’s better today and tomorrow? How can you take a step back to see the bigger picture?
When you are met with a crisis, big or small, ask yourself, What tree am I? What fruit do I bear? Find the gifts and strengths God has given you, and you will rise.