By: Jennifer Michael, Executive Assistant
Does anyone else tend to withdraw from people during those uncomfortable times of heartache, anger, fear, and temptation? Guilty, right here. But why do we do that? What makes us think we can get through those times without having someone to help us along the way? You know, someone to give us just a little bit of shade in the desert, so to speak.
Sure, we all experience these seasons in life, (sometimes all in the same day, ugh) that can make us feel lonely and can often seem unbearable. While in thought about my "season," I was reminded about the story of a man named Elijah. He was strong and confident enough to call fire down from heaven, yet he experienced such extreme fear and despair that he ran away from everyone, to the desert. He took refuge under a Rotem tree (aka Broom tree) in hopes that God would take his life and let him die right then and there (but, that wasn't in God's plan.) There was more ahead for Elijah, but the journey was too much for him just then. He needed rest. A little shade.
To understand the type of shade Elijah experienced, let’s talk a little bit about this desert tree. The Rotem tree is more of a bush, low to the ground providing only enough shade for one person. The protection it provides isn’t overwhelming, abundant or in excess. It is…just enough. Just enough to get out of the heat and brutal force of the sun. Just enough of a break so a person can continue the journey. Merciful. Restorative. And sometimes, even lifesaving.
As I thought about this tree, I thought about the times when, like Elijah, I said, “I have had enough, Lord.” The journey is too much for me. But also, like Elijah, I found shelter beneath Rotem trees and received just enough shade so I could continue my journey. Not in the form of a literal tree, but through people, I’ve experienced just enough shades of mercy, restoration, and yes, even lifesaving shades.
What does it look like to provide shade like that of the Rotem tree?
- It gives support and shows mercy when others have been merciless.
- It speaks words of encouragement that restore when someone has been harsh and destructive towards themselves.
- It provides kindness and acceptance, not judgment. This can truly be lifesaving.
Today, this week, this month, this year, suppose we look for ways to provide just enough shade, protection, and relief from someone’s struggle so they can continue their journey. We may not be able to fix the problem, but we sure can help ease the burden. Maybe you’re not able to be that for someone else right now. Maybe you need someone to be your shade of relief. I urge you not to separate yourself from others. You are courageous! Reach out to someone and find your Rotem tree.
Encompass Connection Center is here to help you learn how to be your partner's "shade" of relief, acceptance, and support. We help couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. For many couples, those issues can stem from a lack of participation. Just like any problem, though, participation issues can be fixed. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.