I am simply fascinated by the beauty of the shedding bark of the river birch trees in our yard, especially on a snowy day like today. Often I find a graceful scattering of authentic river birch paper fanned out beneath the trees. I have even written a letter to my Dad, a lover of nature, on one of these paper-thin pieces of bark. A quick bit of Google research reveals that one of the reasons a river birch tree sheds is to allow rapid growth.
Yes, I can agree with that, growth is a letting go, a shedding experience. And yes, often there is pain involved in the growing.
Recently I had a dermatologist-recommended facial peel. I probably include “dermatologist recommended” so that you will not think I am vain! The peel happened to be quite painful at times. I experienced facial swelling, a blotchy red rash, and intense itching. I slept in a recliner for three nights to help reduce the swelling. Hmmm…what a metaphor as I was thinking of writing this blog about peeling layers and the pain that can occur! I chuckle at the timing of things. So, my skin is now better. I do not plan any more peels…at least of the “dermatologist-recommended” variety.
As a mom, I have often wanted our children to have a smooth road…no bumps, no hurdles, no hurts. And yet, I know in my own life that it isn’t on the smooth road that I grow and develop. What a joy to watch them grow now as adults amidst struggle, to lean on each other amidst times of pain and to experience life richly as they grow--not as measured by the chart attached to the doorway that recorded their annual growth, but as they grow by living authentically in the depth of their souls.
As part of a couple, my husband and I love and cherish the smooth times, but we have also learned to embrace the difficult times. We want to know and experience the deeper growth that can occur in struggle—in adjusting to a new city, in learning to communicate more clearly, in praying through the night for the health of a child, in sitting with a parent who is struggling for his last breath or in taking on a new challenge together.
As a woman, I often wrestle with the concept of wanting it all perfect. However, the “letting go” of being perfect is a concept I want to accept. Of course, any of you who know me know that being perfect is not true. The struggle and desire for doing things perfectly and wanting things perfect has been true. I am learning the value of letting go. It seems that I have been learning this concept for a while now, and that the beauty of letting go is now appealing to me more than the mirage of perfection. The freedom and beauty of accepting myself for who I am is enough.
What is it that you desire to let go of? Just as the birch tree says goodbye to its bark, what is it that you would like to bid farewell? What is it that leaves you feeling vulnerable? What if you chose to look at vulnerability through a new lens? What layers are you aware of that you could label—and shed? What pieces of brokenness do you wish to hide? What beauty is waiting to be seen within you as you let go of the unnecessary layers?
May our journey go deep to an inner peace as we shed an outer layer or two.