Sometime back while counseling a loved one who was considering divorce, I suggested that in our minds we take a walk through a forest. Have you walked in this forest?
First, you stand back and take a look at all the trees. As you do you are amazed at their rich unique beauty. Just being near them makes the air more refreshing, the breeze cooler. Then you begin walking into the forest. Along the path you marvel at so much wonder! Birds are chirping and singing their joyful tunes. Squirrels and rabbits dash here and there. Gorgeous wildflowers flash their colors amid the filtered flickering sunlight. Delightful sounds of dried leaves crunch beneath your feet. And you breath more deeply so to inhale more of the soothing smells of fresh pine needles.
Time passes. After awhile you come across a small tree that has fallen in your path. It would take little effort to lift it off and clear the way. But you decide instead to just climb over it and go on. Picking it up would be too much trouble, you think. While stepping ovr it, though, you stump your toe and fall flat on your face. Getting up and brushing yourself off, you continue on. Suddenly, now the dried leaves crunching under your feet have become rough "stupid leaves!"
As you walk on you soon discover a much large tree has fallen across your path. It would take only a little more effort to clear it away, but you certainly are in no frame of mind to waste time on it. As you climb over, you get a harsh scratch on your leg and a sting from an insect. Now, there is nothing good about the forest. You mutter, "dumb" this, and "stupid" that, as you start looking for a shortcut back out of the shadows, shuffling disgustedly along. The little animals and birds which had been so delightful, now chatter a shrill warning to each other as they quickly fly away.
You hurry along, searching for a better path. You come across a pair of young lovers walking hand-in-hand, enjoying the singing birds, the lovely wild flowers, and the cool pine smells wafting through the breezes. As you come near, they sigh cheerfully, "isn't the forest just beautiful?" You mutter, "just wait till you go a little further you'll change your mind."
You stumble on and there in a small clearing you find a family enjoying a picnic. They look at you smiling, as the mother says, "isn't this the most perfect way to live?" You mutter, "yeh, if you like ticks and spiders and rattlesnakes."
You pass a couple bird watchers. Looking high up into the branches, they sigh, "Ooh! Awe!" They're so excited over the birds they've discovered. And considering the height and beauty of the massive timbers, they say, "What gorgeous blessings of God." You mutter as you pass, "Gorgeous? hmmm! blessings? A bunch of dirty tree stumps, really. I'd call them a curse rather than a blessing."
The shadows seemingly grow darker as you walk along as you recount to yourself and to everyone you pass all the negative things you've encountered while being in the forest. Nothing is beautiful any more. Irritating chatter is all you hear. Dirty brown tree stumps and rough, noisy dry leaves on your pathway are all you see. And you can't wait to get out of this dreadful forest...
We all may relate to this analogy at one time or another. But especially if we are experiencing damaged marriage relations. At such times it is as though we are "too deep in the forest to see the trees." We see only darkness, the bad and the ugly. Ready to end it all we want to cut down every tree we see. Even though in reality we're surrounded with such potential.
Nothing anyone says causes us to see what we are missing, or the good we are throwing away. Then, it's too late. It's over. The damage is done. All because we're too proud to admit that it was us that did not want to "clear the path" by accepting responsibility for our actions. Instead, we hurry on to the next "forest," more disgruntled than before, infecting everyone else we meet with our negative remarks. Always, we're looking for someone else who has experienced a similar negative experience who will agree with us that walking in that forest was the most bleak and terrible thing anyone could ever experience!
We overlook the blessing the dying and growth processes the beauty of life and living the giving and sharing and learning that is there to experience. We're too deep in the forest to see the trees.
Yet, when we find ourselves in this darkness, if we will listen, the Lord is saying, "Call unto me and I will answer thee, and shew you great and mighty things which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3.
"There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease....through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant." Job 14:7,9.
"...that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3.
Your articles are so insightful and beautifully written. I'm going to share a perspective you may not have considered about this one. Although I'm not married. I could relate to this person's journey through the forest because he/she was alone as she journied. Everyone she encountered were either in pairs or groups. Sometimes it is difficult to thoroughly enjoy the world when you have no one to share it with. I have enjoyed my singleness and after so long do wonder if I can be otherwise. But I tend to believe the challenge of singleness increases with age. Thank you for this beautifully written work. The Lord Bless you.