I love birch trees. In my imaginary house, I have a whole forest growing outside my library. When we’re cruising down I-55 between Memphis and Jackson, I love to look outside the window searching for the beautiful sliver of silver in the camouflage of brown and green.
The first time I saw a birch tree I thought something was wrong with it… why else would all its bark be peeling off like a snake molting its skin? But take a step closer and you see the textural beauty in that bark. Peer underneath the bark and you see the smoothest piece of wood hiding there.
For the past few years, I’ve felt like that birch tree I love so much. I’ve had to look deep inside my heart and confront some things I didn’t like about myself and be honest about who I really am. For the first 21 years of my life, I worked really hard at pleasing people, making the best grades and collecting awards and accolades because I thought they made me who I was. I couldn’t stand to make a mistake because it meant I was a failure. I spent every ounce of energy creating a facade… making people believe I was invincible.
Slowly and unfortunately very painfully, I’ve peeled back the layers. I’ve learned it’s okay to have a bad day, and I don’t have to slap a sweet, pearly white smile on it. I’ve learned that happiness isn’t the same as joy. I’ve learned that true friends laugh with you and cry with you and love you even when you don’t love yourself. I’ve learned that it’s okay to shed a few layers… to be vulnerable… to let people see the deepest part of me. Because hiding underneath all those layers is a heart… my heart… smooth and solid, forgiven and made beautiful thanks to the grace of its Creator.