I learned something interesting this week at camp. When birch trees rot, they rot from the inside out. This means that when you see a birch tree lying on the ground, the bark may be completely intact, but the inside could be completely rotten. The two trees in the picture above look pretty good except for where they’ve been stepped on. Once someone steps on the rotted birch tree, it’s pretty clear that the tree is rotted – and the person probably has a twisted ankle to show for it.
So what’s the significance? We can be like this – rotting on the inside, but making sure that our outside looks nice and alive and healthy. This is a particular temptation for control freaks like me. I need for the rest of the world to think I have it together. Even now, when I may have only 2 or 3 productive days a week, I would love for friends and neighbors to think that I still manage to serve healthy meals, keep a clean house, educate my children with exciting and interesting techniques, read fun books, and keep up a fascinating blog.
And, maybe I can keep up that facade – that birch bark outside – for a few weeks. Then someone steps on it accidently when life gets a little stressful and then it becomes obvious that the reality isn’t a beautiful, vibrant, living tree.
No, I need to be honest and take on only what I can handle, giving God the control of each day – actually of each minute(Isaiah 40:31, Jer 6:16, Phil 1:6, Phil 4:6). I have to quite worrying about how things look to other people. I answer to God. His standards are incredibly high, but they are high in the areas of holiness – have I loved my kids, have I been careful with my words, have I been diligent with the time and energy I have? God’s standards for my house and the kids’ educations are different than mine. So, I need to listen to the Holy Spirit every minute and pay more attention to the inside of my life instead of the outside. After all, I’m me – not a birch tree.
Are you a perfectionist or control freak? Does the story of the birch tree resonate with you? How are you learning to work through the perfectionism? How do you listen to the Holy Spirit on a constant basis (especially those of us with kids)?