"Not everything that grows us is good and right." —Jonathan Enix (Everything That Grows Us)
It's true— everyday circumstances have the ability to leave a lasting impression for the rest of our lives. Those overalls you wore your first day of school are a contributing factor to the reason you've been friends with the same person for 14 years. That person that you said "hi" to at a service project is now your best friend. That club you decided to join introduced you to the people who have laughed with you through the most awkward situations, cried with you through the tough times, and rejoiced with you through the broken chains.
It's strange to think that our daily decisions have led up to this moment in time that we are in right now. These decisions are the ones that grow us-- positively and negatively.
We have people and aspects of our lives that impact us positively, but we also have other people and aspects that impact our lives negatively. It's important to understand the original seeds from which our true selves grow, but it's also important to understand what waters those seeds and, ultimately, where our roots—good or bad—are grounded.
The roots of a tree are the foundation. They keep the tree in place. A tree's identity is found in the roots because these roots have a direct effect on everything else connected to the tree. Similarly, roots have everything to do with the way we water them. It's honestly simple: whichever roots you water, those are the ones that will grow. Good roots grow good fruit, and bad roots grow bad fruit.
The same goes for us. As people, we have figurative roots. We have people, places, and things that keep us grounded, and these are the things we look to when we have trials and tribulations. However, sometimes these roots are harmful to our well-being if we aren't rooted in the things that bear good fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control— qualities of God).
Sometimes, we don't always water the right roots. Our thoughts, emotions, and actions are the way we water our figurative roots, and if these things are negative, the roots within us won't be grounded in God. They will be grounded with sin. Sometimes, these roots have the ability to grow and deepen, and it is difficult to not turn to those things (bitterness, unforgiveness, substances, etc.) when times are trying because that's where we find our identity.
How do you get rid of the negative roots that are so deeply woven into your emotions, thoughts, and actions?
I am a firm believer in the fact that our God is a God who is able to rip out the roots. I see people who have been delivered from alcoholism, depression, and other things. I see people who are weighed down by these things one day, but the next day their desires for worldly things are gone. Unfortunately, this isn't always the way it goes. There are things people struggle with that they may never get immediately delivered from, whether it's a disease, feeling, or a habit. This can be really frustrating for those who try to stay steadfast in God and feel no sort of weight lifted off of them. That is where this comes into play:
"Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, a victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting."
Philippians 1:27-29 (MSG)
Roots are deep. You can cut down a tree all you want, but the roots are not so easily done away with. There comes a point where we make the decision to not feed those roots. We have to remain faithful to our roots that are planted in Him, and in return, we will see that He remains invested in us. It's easy to kick and scream and cry and ask God, "Why is this happening?" but it's important to remember that we are suffering for a good reason. God isn't setting us up for a loss; he's putting us in a position to better ourselves and deepen our roots with Him. Once we put our emotions, thoughts, and actions in the roots that matter, we realize that day by day we are letting those negative roots die. We have to make a choice to not feed those roots, and although that is a hard thing to do, we've got a God who will fight the battle alongside us.
I believe that God makes the best out of what the devil intends for evil, and I also believe that the harder the circumstances we face, the more God trusts us. What an incredible honor that the Lord of the universe would trust me to face the darkest of shadows! What joy can be found in the fact that God gives us exactly what we need! My God is a God who rips out the roots, yes, but my God is a God Who is faithful. My God is a God Who will stay by my side, come Hell or high water, and help me let the sinful roots rot. That is something we can find peace and comfort in when we have the courage to let our roots die.
*A special thank you to Katelyn Clark, who inspired this article!