The General stands tall, straight in quiet majesty. His wound a scarred ugly reminder of trauma endured.
All around others stand in awe of his quiet strength. There is no sign of weakness only proud confidence. He survived. He continues on. No ceremony.
An ugly black scar the only evidence of fire endured and conquered.
The General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world. A Sequoia. Beautiful. Majestic. Breathtaking. With an ugly, black scar.
Most sequoias owe their lives to fire. It turns out that fire is a sequoia’s friend because it strengthens the sequoia trees by clearing out the debris around them, opening up their pinecones so they will drop their seeds, and creating open space for the seeds to germinate in ash-fertilized soil. Their high tannin bark protects them from insect and rot and fire. As long as the bark remains, nutrients continue to flow up the tree. And, depending on the depth and breadth of the scar, the tree can cover over it, further protecting the tree.
Life is like this.
- It is in the heat of the fire that we discover who we really are
- It is in adversity that we learn the meaning of true friendship
- It is in facing difficulty that we conquer fear
- It is when we are out of our comfort zone that we become laser focused
We have no choice about whether or not to go through adversity. We will. And probably often. Viktor Frankl said, “We have absolutely no control over what happens to us in life but what we have paramount control over is how we respond to those events.”
If we allow it, adversity makes us stronger.
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” – Walter Anderson
I am the person I am today because of the fires in my life – the scars that are visible or invisible. Adversity teaches me that failure, struggle, and pain don’t have to mean destruction and defeat. In adversity, I learn to run to the wisdom and strength of my Heavenly Father – to lean in, learn, and grow. I can choose to go through the pain and come out the other side. Refined. Stronger.
Or, I can choose to remain in the pain – to be stunted, bitter, afraid, weak.
Psalm 66:9-10 says “God preserved us among the living; He didn’t let our feet slip a bit. But you, God, have tested us – you’ve refined us like silver.”
My choice. My scars. My victorious life.
What fire are you facing today? It may be minor or it may be overwhelming. How you will respond to the fire is solely your choice. Will you push forward through the pain to learn, grow, be refined, to treasure your most precious gift of life? Or, will you get stuck, mired, embittered?
Your choice. Your scars. Your victorious life.
Like the General Sherman Sequoia, let’s choose to fight the fire, bear the scar, and stand tall in victory.
Majestic. Beautiful. Extraordinary.