Have you ever felt like you have been emotionally and spiritually knocked down? (If you answer “no” to this rhetorical question, I will venture to guess that you’re in denial! Go ahead, admit it!)

My point is, I believe that in our lifetime, we all get knocked down emotionally and spiritually from time to time. The challenge becomes how we respond to this emotional knock down.

This past spring I felt knocked down, emotionally mostly, but spiritually somewhat. To put it mildly, my (our) world was turned upside down.

My faith in God never wavered, but I definitely lost my “Pollyanna” status about the ways of the world. So my husband and I took a retreat on the outskirts of Fredericksburg. It was there that, together, we began to process, to grieve, to allow ourselves to hurt, and to begin the process of figuring out how we would move into our future.

One thing was sure … our family was solid as a rock. My husband and I supported and loved each other, and we were supported and loved by our adult children, and by so many friends and colleagues that I can’t even count. (The support is still strong!).

I kept telling myself that in my brokenness, God had something for me. My prayer was “God, what would you have me learn … and how would you have me grow, in this brokenness?”

During our retreat, we took walks through the countryside. It was beautiful, and perfect for processing and beginning the journey of healing through planning and dreaming. Being in the heart of springtime, the weather was beautiful, and the countryside was filled with blooms, blossoms, birds, bees, and all kinds of life … new life.

However, what really grabbed my attention was not only the new life, but an older life that appeared to have recovered, and become stronger, in the wake of some kind of trauma.

The first time or two that I saw it, I thought it was just a very interesting part of this beautiful landscape.

And then it hit me … one of the things that I believe that God had for me in order to begin my journey to healing and wholeness.

A very large tree had fallen over, “smack dab” onto the ground, perhaps due to some storm in the recent past. But rather than just lay there and die, the tree flourished, for the tree had maintained a small bit of root connection with the ground. The branches that had once been the side of the tree now turned and reached heavenward. These branches and their leaves were not scrawny or lacking vibrancy. These leaves and branches were thriving!

The lesson God gave me right then and there was that there was new life ahead for me, just like the tree. I needed to maintain a connection with God, turn my vision from the depths of the ground where my spirit resided, and look and reach upward into the future. Like the tree, this new life would be a process, not an overnight transformation. However, the time to begin the process was right then.

Now, this is not to say that grieving and processing emotional and spiritual woundedness should come to a screeching halt. NO WAY!

Remember, it is a process through which we must go. The thing to remember is that within our grief, God is in the middle of it with us, even if we do not sense God’s presence. God dries our tears, and holds our hands as we suffer, for it is in the process that we heal, learn, and grow. God sends those who love us to support, love and encourage us. Yet, we cannot be in a hurry to heal. Otherwise, we get something like a “fake healing,” in which our wounds appear healed on the outside, but lay dormant on the inside. We must take the time to let our branches get stronger and reach higher as our roots remain connected to our life source.

So, take what you will from what God taught me. But keep your eyes open, and be vigilant, because you never know what God has for you on a lonely country road in Fredericksburg, Texas!