A couple of years ago my mom took a girls trip to Ireland and brought me home the most beautiful necklace. It’s a Tree of Life pendant and surrounding the tree are a bunch of words written in Gaelic. I have no clue what it says; it could say something horrible for all I know. But I LOVE this necklace. Like, love it so much that I’m rarely seen without it around my neck. Love it so much that I tried to have it tattooed on my wrist in Vegas (thankfully that didn’t work out). Maybe obsessed is a better word? Someone always compliments me on it and says that they love what the Tree of Life represents, but this pendant means something completely different to me. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, the Tree of Life is an interesting concept. But when I look at my necklace, my tree, I see my husband, Stephen.
Dry Dirt, Withered Roots
Trees are fascinating to me as they are strong and can withstand most anything. Above ground they can appear sturdy and healthy, when in reality, their roots are decaying, slowly dying. A tree can be beautiful and colorful on the surface, but will tumble and die when what’s below the ground finally gives out. I’m much like a tree. Above ground I’m funny, smiling, hair flowing in the breeze (picture the slow motion hair toss that Prince Charming does in Shrek 2) but underneath I’m a mess of gnarled, crumbling roots. Roots that can give way at any moment. Roots that have been slowly drying up for years. Roots that won’t be strong enough when I really need them to be. My roots are brittle because of an annoying little thing called depression. Well, it’s not really little, it’s big and it’s nasty and I hate it, but it is part of my life and has been for years.
It’s not something that I shout from the rooftops. There’s still a stigma attached to “mental health” and believe it or not, I’ve always cared what people thought about me, so it’s just something I live with and I try to deal with it with some form of grace. Unfortunately, my happy demeanor, forced smile, and grace tends to disappear when it comes to my husband. I mean, he’s supposed to deal with me right? Take the brunt of it, for better or for worse? The thing is, he does. And he does it well.
Rock or Root?
If we were on Family Feud and they surveyed 100 women with the question, “What do you call your husband?” a majority of them would respond with “my rock” or something along those lines. My answer would be that he’s my roots. He keeps me grounded, holds me steady, takes the brunt of the wind. I could take it a step further and say that he’s my oak tree. His roots grow as wide underground as his branches do above. The oak is one of the strongest trees because of this. It holds firm and strong even in the most damaging situations. You see, it takes a strong, stable man to marry someone like me. One might say that I’m “damaged goods” and I came with a lot of “baggage.” I can’t say that I would disagree with those statements, although they are a wee bit harsh. But my husband definitely didn’t hit the jackpot in the wife department. I hate to clean (although my home almost always looks nice), cooking is my nemesis, and I’m moody as all get out. I completely acknowledge that I put our children before him and that he often walks into a silent home because by the time he gets home, I’m done. Spent. But he still comes home. He still calls to see how my day is going. He still shows up. Why, you ask? Well, most likely because I’m very hard on myself and it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be (right, babe? Validate me here. Ha!). But the main reason is because he KNOWS me. The REAL me. He knows that my seasons of depression don’t last forever and he knows that I’ll poke my head out eventually. He knows that when I’m good that things are awesome. Our family is happy, our intimacy is on point, I manage to ask how his day was with enthusiasm. He stays strong for me, for us, for our family. He keeps us rooted in grace.
Waiting For the Blossoming
It takes a VERY special man to offer unconditional love and grace, and he does it and then some. I am so thankful that he chose to walk the crazy with me. I’m sure that he’s thought of running for the hills but he’s still here and hopefully will be for the rest of my life. Switchfoot recently released a song entitled "I Won’t Let You Go." It’s supposed to be a song about God, but for me it’s a song about my husband. The chorus IS him, it’s the words I SEE in his eyes even though he doesn’t say them aloud.
If you could only let your guard down
You could learn to trust me somehow
I swear, that I won’t let you go
If you could only let go your doubts
If you could just believe in me now
I swear, that I won’t let you go
I won’t let you go
How lucky am I to have been blessed with this man? He’s a true man. He’s honest, hardworking, loving, and he’s my roots. He’s holding me steady while I regain my footing. He allows me to bask in the sun while he’s doing the hard work. He’s patiently waiting for me to blossom again. He is my Tree of Life.
Brooke is warrior mama to three rambunctious boys, wife to an honest, hardworking man, daughter to one of the greatest humans our great God ever created, and friend to anyone who talks to her. She's has been dubbed "the most inappropriate friend." She lives for a good belly laugh and to bring laughter to others - laughter feeds her soul. She loves the outdoors (not like hiking or rock climbing - she's not that cool - more like standing in the sunshine listening to nature!) and she finds God in the simple things.