I love trees, especially with fall colors, and have more than two-dozen gracing my yard. But if I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be the weeping willow. In our first home, my late husband, Carl and I had a beautiful willow. In the winter, its ice-adorned branches resembled a giant chandelier. Remembering the beauty of that tree years later, I rescued a scrawny, willow sapling from a nursery closeout sale. Carl laughed when I hauled it from the car. I told him it would grow. On occasion, he humored me by putting a little fertilizer around the base.
By the second summer it had doubled in size, but still being fragile, the trunk snapped when a group of rowdy boys tackled each other—and the tree—while playing football. Carl had a saw in hand, ready to finish off my little willow when I again came to the rescue. He tried without success to convince me the tree, its top half touching the ground and barely attached to the trunk, could not be saved.
“You can’t cut it down,” I protested and retrieved duct tape from the garage. “I’ll fix it,” I said, taping the trunk back together. “It won’t work,” Carl said. “It’s broken!”
I refused to give up. That little tree was special to me. I had nurtured it and dreamed of a swing hanging from its branches one day. Surprisingly, that willow survived and thrived, growing into a massive tree with branches reaching above our roof. And yes, it held a swing.
That experience taught me major life lessons about brokenness. How many times do we find ourselves in the same predicament as that little tree? Something unexpected happens—illness, job loss, death, divorce—any number of things. It breaks our spirit to the point that we feel certain we can never be whole again.
But God rescues us. He takes our broken lives, tapes us back together, nurtures us, loves us and makes us strong again.
In this season of Thanksgiving, let’s look for opportunities to love and serve others whose hearts and lives have been broken.