Saturday, April 28, 2018

Lessons from a Tree: Mastering the Art of Growth (feat. Langston Hughes' "Harlem")

By: Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I've always loved Langston Hughes' "Harlem." Rich in symbolism and similes, it's a classic in the literary canon. Every time I read it, I'm drawn to one word in particular: deferred. According to Google, the word defer means "put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone." Even worse than a dream deferred is a dream unwatered. In life, substantial growth happens gradually, like the growth of a tree. You don't have to check it everyday to know that it's growing. Once it's planted in fertile ground, as long as it's adequately watered, it will grow. If you plant a tree on Tuesday and check it on Saturday, the growth will not be noticeable, but that doesn't mean it's not growing. If you plant a tree tomorrow and come back to it a year from now, you'll be able to see the growth with the naked eye. The growth you feel is just as important as the growth that you can physically see.

One of the most frequently quoted Bible verses is Proverbs 18:21, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (NIV). This applies to every aspect of life. If you speak life to a thing, it will live; and if you speak death to a thing, it will die. So, logically, if you command your dream to live, it will do so; but if you allow it to die, it will die. If you speak to a thing the way God would speak to it, it is guaranteed to live. If you speak to it according to human emotion, which is often negative, you run the risk of cursing it. God always causes us to triumph, so the only way you'll fail is if you speak failure over yourself. The quickest way to fail is to tell yourself what you'll never be and do.

Speaking negatively over your dreams is the equivalent of planting a seed on Tuesday and pulling it up on Saturday. Don't uproot your tree just because the process is taking longer than expected. Nothing worth having comes easy. Give it time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Speak what you seek until you see what you've said! You might feel weak now, but if you only knew the strength and the height of the tree that is planted in you, you'd understand why you can't quit. Where you're going is SO much better than where you are! If you want to see a thing manifest, you've got to continue to SEEK and SPEAK that thing! You will see the fruits of your labor if you just hang on!

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