Dandelions, Oak Trees, Joy, and Beauty

Dandelions spring up with ease, but are blown apart by first slight breeze

Oak trees marred by fire, lightning storms, and tire swings seem to stand eternities.

There’s nothing wrong with lightheartedness. It’s a gift to be able to tell silly jokes and talk about nothing, to laugh and find yourself with no worries, to celebrate, to sing, to be careless and carefree, to delight in a moment without pain, to get away with doing something easy for a change. It just kills me that we try so hard to cling to it when it’s so empty and fleeting.

Sometimes, I miss pain. I ache for it. I ache for conflict, for the sting of being told I’m wrong. I miss having sore muscles and callused hands, I miss the feeling of knowing that I wore myself out, that I have little or nothing left to give. I miss hitting my limit and pushing myself beyond it, I ache for friendships born from adversity and built for constant challenges, I ache to see real change; the type of impact that a bad day won’t deconstruct, the type that undeniably changes anyone to behold it. I long for smiles from dirt caked faces in the midst of war zones; proof of a true, deep joy. I long to fail miserably, look my mistakes in the face, make changes, and fail a different way as many times as it takes until I can succeed. I want the hard road. I want the lessons learned, I want the wisdom, the strength, the hope, the promise that lies at the end of the struggle; everything else has become so cheap to me.

I ache for painful goodbyes; something in me needs to have my heart ripped out simply for the sake of growth, to have my passion criticized and assaulted, I need to have opportunities to doubt the path I’m on because it seems too hard, to doubt myself because I’m not strong enough. I need these things so that I can look to Christ and realize that He is rock-solid and that my eyes have seen His glory, and my weary body has been lifted by Him, and that there is no reasonable explanation for anything I’ve accomplished except that He has been gracious to me. I want to learn to forgive people who hurt me worse than I thought I could ever be hurt and I’m not afraid to suffer for my foolishness. How can I know that the Lord is my shepherd unless I’ve been utterly lost? How can I know that He is my Rock and Salvation unless I have nothing left to stand on and I have no one else to save me? How do I know He is truly good until I lose everything I think is good now and still manage to find His mercy in it? How can I know what is real, except that all that is fake is stripped away?

Life empty of pain, tears, suffering, and sacrifice is also empty of real joy, peace, victory, love, and ultimately, meaning. Is it really of any wonder that so many of us are so empty? We’re terrified of everything that we so desperately need. The very degree to which we avoid uncomfortable circumstances is the very degree that we avoid life’s deepest blessings. At least, that’s what it seems to me.

Dandelions giggle until one breeze strikes them silent;

But strong winds cannot quench the joy of an oak.

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