Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

By Shewanda Riley

“The wind makes the tree stronger” was what I was told a few years ago when I shared my lack of knowledge about trees with a professional landscaper about. He explained that the tree grows stronger as it blows in the wind because it develops a stronger trunk and roots. To be honest, I wished I’d known that little fact nearly 9 years ago when I was so excited about becoming a homeowner but was so stressed about the tree in my front yard.

Even though I knew that a new tree was included in the homebuilder’s package, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that for the first few years the tree in my front yard looked more like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It had a thin trunk smaller than my wrists and no leaves at all the first few months. I tried to trust my landscaper’s assurances that over time it would grow tall and have beautiful reddish orange leaves. One day just a few months after I’d moved into my home, I shared with her my concerns that the tree would break during the first heavy rainstorm, and she told me to get tree stakes to anchor the tree until it became stronger.  

I did what she said but the first strong winds and heavy rain that came a few weeks later made me very nervous. As I watched the tree bend and sway in the downpour, I was convinced it would not survive the night. I expected to see its thin limbs and leaves scattered in my front yard the next day. However, when I woke up the next day, I was pleasantly surprised: the tree was still standing with the same leaves on it. How was that even possible?   

Over the years, I’ve watched my small tree grow into a sturdy tree that seems to easily withstand high winds and rain.   And I finally took the tree anchor ropes off after about four years after a friend said that the tree didn’t need them anymore.  He said that keeping the ropes on the tree would actually keep it from growing.      

My concerns about my front yard tree reminds me of Psalms 1:1-3 which says that “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Much like trees, we actually get stronger as we endure storms.  Lately, I’ve thought about enduring storms, both natural and spiritual, as we see more news stories of the devastation of Spring storms. In some instances, entire neighborhoods are destroyed while in others, the only thing left standing is a tree. 

  Sometimes these storms force us to spend more time reading God’s word or praying for Godly direction.  What actually happens is that by turning to God in the midst of a storm, we begin to develop deeper spiritual roots. We may bend and even feel like we are going to break but, in the end, we will become stronger by developing a deeper connection with God. 

Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.