Monday, May 10, 2010

The Tree House

"In order to reach your goals, you will have to climb a long way and be frightened. But take it a step at a time"

Those were the words a kind uncle uttered one day, as his young niece expressed her fear of climbing the ladder leading to the tree house he had built. Their home was a two- story Victorian with a steep pitched roof. The tree house was in an old Oak tree, and it was higher than the roof top of the Victorian house. To the little girl who stood at the bottom of the tree, the tree house seemed to float above the clouds, and she was apprehensive about going up. Despite her fears, her uncle gently nudged her to start climbing.

Many years later, as she worked her way through college, and struggled juggling jobs and school work, the girl always remembered that day, and thoughts of the tree house propelled her forward toward achieving greater heights.

Even if the heights we are attempting to reach are not unthinkable ones, it is quite common to be frightened when we contemplate our goals. Just like the tree house, our dreams seem exceedingly distant and it is easy to forget that each step gets us closer to destination.

We may not see the results right away, and that’s usually discouraging. Once a goal is set, faith must carry us the rest of the way. We can’t look down, or else we will fall. We can only go forward, one step at a time, knowing that we WILL get to the tree house if we keep up our efforts.

Growing up, I had a friend who had weight problems. Periodically, she would get motivated to try a new diet, but after following it for a week or two, she would give up. When I asked why she didn’t stick with the regimen, she always replied that she wasn’t losing any weight anyway. In reality, it was not true. Even after a week, one could tell that something was slightly changing, but it would have taken several weeks to see noticeable results. The change was not dramatic enough to keep her committed to her goal.

A few years ago, I ran into her while visiting my parents, and saw that she had lost an amazing amount of weight. When I asked her what had finally worked, she said: "I just decided to stick with the diet, regardless of the immediate lack of reward." Although she could not see tangible results, she had decided to have faith and continue – the pounds began to melt off, and a new woman, smiling and confident, was born.

Fear of failure is probably the greatest deterrent of going far. We are afraid of not making it, so we don’t even try. Once that fear is conquered, and faith takes over, the worst is done.

The little girl of the story had a special place in the heart for the uncle that encouraged her to climb the tree house and she will always know that when she is scared of anything, she can think of that beautiful, sunny day.

I am certain her uncle, who recently passed away, is smiling down at her from the top of the tree house, proud of all she has conquered. In fact, I think he is doing that right now.

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