[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
Have you ever had one of those peaceful “me time” moments that gets interrupted? You might be enjoying your sleep in the middle of the day or sipping a cup of coffee while reading a good book. You might finally be watching that movie that you have been postponing or listening to your favourite worship cd? Whatever is “that moment” for you imagine indulging yourself in it and then you hear a noise…a loud irritating noise that won’t stop!
You feel like screaming “Not now!!! Please not now!!! Things were perfect a moment ago! Lord please, make it stop!!! Angels I command you to make it stop.” Well I was having one of those moments where everything was just peaceful. I was drinking my coffee. My laptop was infront of me and my head was buzzing with thoughts of what I wanted to write when all of a sudden a sound of a tree cutter!!! A sound that seemed to go on forever! I ran to my kitchen window to find out that my neighbour had arranged to have his trees cut. I know I uttered “Love your neighbour Neziswa! Love your neighbour! The Lord said Love Your neighbour.” I am afraid I didn’t get far with this line of thought as I saw and heard a huge branch fall and land in my yard passing my roof by an inch. I opened my kitchen window to let the men know that they needed to be careful of how they were cutting the tree. They needed to calculate and direct how the branches they were cutting will fall as they might cause damage.
I do understand the need for tree branches to be cut. I do understand that for any tree; for any lasting sustainable tree to grow and to continue to grow there are times when it has to be cut. Very thick branches which can be dangerous to keep have to go. As much as I understand that in my head when it does happen and when I am around it, it can be a very scary experience. The sound that comes from the machine it disrupts the peaceful environment in neighbouring houses.
Where did that come from?
It is not that different when you are going about your life thinking that things are so peaceful with your loved ones then all of a sudden you hear somebody shout; somebody scream at you, accusing you, then you think to yourself:“Now where did that come from? Do we have to talk about this now? Can’t we just maintain the peace? Can’t we just continue with the things the way they are?” The ever constant sound of someone yelling; accusing and shouting makes you confront the fact that things are not as peaceful as you want them to be. You might want to be the peace maker by not confronting obvious issues that are affecting you and your family but sooner or later you will be woken up by a “tree cutter.”
The cutting of trees is not comfortable but it is necessary for the well-being; stability and safety of that household and the yard. If there are strong winds and rains the branches that fall from those trees might cause serious damage that might be too costly. There are times when your marriage and family needs to do some “tree cutting.” Some branches that are posing a threat to the foundation of your home need to go. You and your spouse are the only ones who can make that decision of what to cut and when to cut.
Our marriages and families are similar to trees. For them to grow into long lasting flourishing “trees” they need to be pruned now and again. Some branches need to go. You will need to cut some potentially dangerous branches in your marriage. That process might result in conflict as both of you might not agree on which branches to cut. Your spouse might feel: “You need to stop going out with your friends all the time” and you might not think that you are spending too much time with your friends.
Cutting out problem branches
Some “branches” to cut you will decide yourself;“I need to cut out running to my mother and telling her all that is happening in my marriage. I need to cut out overspending! I need to stop spoiling my kids! I need to cut out going to church all the time while my spouse feels neglected! I need to cut spending so much time at the office!” I need to cut out these very big branches in my life so I can concentrate on the health of this tree that is my marriage. Is the cutting enjoyable? No! We have a choice to look at conflict as a necessary way that we have to go through for a marriage to grow or an unwelcome evil that can destroy a marriage. It can be both depending how it is done. The cutting of a tree can damage property if it is done in a wrong way. That tall tree can fall on a house and destroy it. What are the cutting words and actions you say and do to your spouse? Words and actions that you know cut to the very core of who they are! Words that kill a part of them every time they are said? Actions that take some of their dignity away? Words and actions that “cut them down to size”. Like razor sharp blades cutting through thick branches are the screaming, the accusations and the shouting.
If you share any close proximity with someone their actions will affect your life and your own space. If it is your neighbours your lives do intersect at different times even if you live in different houses. What happens behind closed doors and high walls does sometimes spill over to your neighbour’s yards. Whether it is the water from his pipe that wets your yard; or his pets that find their way to your yard or your mail that gets mixed up with his mail or the sound of a tree cutter from your neighbour’s yard disturbing the peace…. your paths do cross.
A hope-giving tree
When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety. When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear wrote Maya Angelou. You have to be aware and be concerned about how you are with others. There are many people who benefit from the great tree that is your marriage. They enjoy the shade from life’s scorching sun. They enjoy the presence of your company. Just the mere presence of the tree that is your marriage gives them hope.
A tall tree; a great tree does not grow overnight. When you see it standing it means that it has had to endure many winters and many scorching summers. It has had to go through many autumns. It has lost many leaves and given life to countless more. Numerous branches have been cut from its stem and it has given life to more. A tall tree has many survival stories to tell.
Let us pray to God to protect our marriages from strong winds and strong rains of life so they may stand the test of time. Let our marriages still be providing shade to future generations who will look at how we lived our lives; how “tall” our marriages became and find inspiration and hope that if God can protect our “trees” from the elements He can surely protect theirs as well. Do some tree cutting today and remove branches that are posing a threat to the health and the safety of your family.