Have you ever been hiking in the woods and come across an older tree that has a bent trunk, like the tree with this blog? It is possible that this tree was intentionally formed this way by someone. The Indians used to bend sapling trees to give directions to each other. We call these crooked trees, or bent trees, but they called them trail markers. They gave directions to water, sacred sites, and other important places.

The Indians would take an Oak or Maple tree, because of its flexibility when they are a young sapling, and their ability to retain their shape when they are older. They bent the tree over to form an arch, securing them to the ground somehow. They left a new branch to grow skyward from the top of the arch, forming a new trunk. Eventually they removed the old upper trunk, leaving a knob that was characteristic to a trail marker tree.

Imagine being that tree. You are young, with the prospects of a tall future ahead of you. But, someone comes along and bends your trunk completely horizontally, causing you: great pain, to be brought low, to be crooked. This act completely changes how you look, how you feel, and now your future is less certain. You are scarred for life.

Despite what this tree went through in its youth, it found a way to reach upward toward the one thing that would give it strength to overcome its hurdle – the sun. It didn’t quit and submit to its hardship. That tree had one purpose – to grow up. Now this tree provides a unique place for critters to sit, a special place for moss to grow, and birds still have a home in its branches and boughs.

Don’t see the tree as ugly, but as an overcomer! That makes it beautiful.

May we do the same; by not seeing our past as an excuse or too difficult to overcome. You cannot change it. Regardless of how painful or difficult it was, or how embarrassing it might have been, it can be used to help others. Our stories, our life lessons learned, can encourage others! Use your past as a tool for their future, your obstacles for their growth.

Reach for the Son to give you strength to overcome your weaknesses and hurdles, and in turn, help others with theirs. Your lessons learned might guide someone else on their path. That is love. That is true beauty.

Food for thought: Love someone that is different from you today. A kind word, a friendly gesture, or your time.

Fun facts: The tallest tree in the world is a redwood in California named Hyperion. It stands 397.7 feet tall. An average Oak tree is 82 feet tall.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Crooked Tree