A/N: SO, this is an essay involving the Christian Religion and my personal faith. Please enjoy. If you see misspellings let me know, but no flames please.
The Pine Tree
At my old house, an army of dark green trees guard over the yard. On the right side of their ranks,
several soldiers form a canopy of leaves that block the sun. A dirt path snakes under their green arms
and winds through the woods. Inside, the forest comes to life. Birds flitted from tree to tree and trill in
joy, and other woodland creatures scurry through the leaves. At the back of the woods, a baby pine tree
once stood – my pine tree. I lived with these woods from the moment my parents brought me home for
the first time.
Around my fourth birthday, my father led me through the woods – as he often did – when we
discovered a pine sapling. Dad crouched next to me when I asked him why the tree was smaller than
the others. "It may be small now," he explained, covering my chubby hand with his, "but one day, it'll
grow into a strong tree like the others." Eyes wide with wonder, I stared at the tree and couldn't quite
believe the sprig would grow into a towering mass like the trees around me. A few moments later, Dad
tugged on my hand, and we made our way back to the house, leaving the lively woods behind.
Before my brother and I were born, my mom insisted to my dad that her children would grow up in
church – like her – and my dad agreed to her request. As such, I went to church even while my mother
carried me in the womb. I grew up with the pastor's children, and Greenbrier Baptist Church was as
much of a home to me as my house. Therefore, it came as no surprise that I never gained some
inspiring tale of finding my salvation. No, my salvation came on cat's feet. It developed as naturally as
a fish learning to swim. However, the day I accepted Jesus as my savior publicly would be imprinted
on my mind. That Sunday, twiddling her thumbs, a six-year-old me perched on the third row of pews.
Pastor Chuck began the invitation to the front, and ever-enthusiastic, I raced from my seat to tell him
about my decision. Strong hands clasped on my shoulders, he told me how proud he was. A few short
weeks later, and he baptised me in front of the congregation. That was it. That simple confession of
faith was the most important decision in my life.
From then on, my faith only grew – childlike at first. At the age of eight, I joined the Girls in Action
program or . This program focused mainly on missionary work along with developing a
foundation in the Bible. Each week, Mrs. Jackie prepared a lesson for us girls, and every so often, we
even spoke with missionaries who lived over seas. As I made friends with the other girls in class, it
became tradition for us to explore my woods and visit my pine tree, which was how I spent the next
four years of my church life. During this time, people came and went from Greenbrier, but I stayed and
learned more about my Savior. Then, after I turned twelve, I moved up to the youth group and met one
of the most influential men in my life – Brandon my youth pastor.
When I joined the youth group, everyone called it the most inspirational part of Greenbrier. The
students were a family, and even as a new member, I felt God's presence within that family. Instead of
their closeness alienating me as I feared, they embraced me and made me a part of the group. I
attributed this mainly to Brandon because he always went out of his way to include me. He was always
there for me. Additionally, Brandon's hunger to know God was infectious. I saw his fire for Jesus, and
I wanted it. For a short time, I had that fire.
As I grew close God, I spent more time in the woods – by myself mostly. Surrounding myself with
the glory of God's creation helped me feel His presence and a peace that escapes description. One day,
after wandering to the back of the woods, I glimpsed my pine and remembered my dad's words. Nine
years was a long time to grow, and the pine had flourished over the years. A few of the older branches
swept across the path and nearly blocked it entirely. Regardless, I never minded. I had watched it
grow from a sapling, and it was special to me. I saw God's beauty in the life of that tree – His beauty in
everything. I'd never felt closer to God. I soon learned how quickly that could change.
I noticed the first inkling of unease while at a Christian concert with my youth group. At some point
in the evening, I realized that Taylor, the pastor's daughter, kept leaving the concert with Brandon.
However, I let my other friends and the music distract me and dismissed Taylor's strange behavior –
until Sunday. Church seemed normal at first, perhaps a little odd that Pastor Chuck did not preach, but
he had missed other Sundays in the past. After the service, Brandon called for church members to stay
late. I was confused and a little exasperated since I had made plans to hang out with a friend that day.
We unanimously canceled these plans at the announcement that Chuck had temporarily stepped down
from the pulpit due to his inappropriate conduct with women. Even as we all stood and headed to our
cars, the news failed to sink in. It felt like I was in suspended disbelief. My pastor did that? The same
pastor that baptised me and taught me so much was forced to step down?
It all spiraled down from there.
Over the next two months, more truths came to light. More women stepped forward with new
information. More serious charges like a possible attempted rape were laid upon Chuck, and I soon
realized that Chuck could never come back. Therefore, it hardly surprised me when the deacons read
his official resignation letter one Sunday. The loss of my childhood pastor hurt, but I felt more anger
than sorrow towards him. When he left, he took more than half the congregation with him, including
my closest friend. The church nearly fell apart. In fact, the only thing that kept me together was my
family and Brandon. The loss of our pastor weighed on everyone, but Brandon stayed, tellling us it
would work out in the end if we trusted God. Soon, the church elected a pastor search committee and,
within a year, a new pastor. We thought the church was starting to mend.
We thought wrong. Our new pastor David acted like a nice guy when I met him. However, we
learned over time that he disliked the music service and adamantly believed that women had no place
in leadership. Murmurs of discontent spread in the congregation, but one person placed themself on
David's side: my teacher and friend Brandon.
On Sunday, May 27, 2012, to the shock of the entire congregation and church leadership aside from
David, Brandon announced his resignation – to take place in one week. It devastated me. More than
Chuck's scandal, more than losing so many church members, Brandon's abandonment shredded my
heart. Next Sunday, we held a goodbye dinner for him, and after it ended, I was the last person to say
my goodbyes to him. I couldn't stop sobbing, so he hugged me and just sat with me as I
cried. When I quieted down, he promised, "You know, I'll still be there for you." That pained me much
worse because he gave me hope. He gave me an empty promise since he stopped being there for me
The day he left, when I returned home, I bolted straight for the woods, tears blurring my vision. In
my distress, I failed to see the tree branches in my way and tripped. Furious, I glared up at the pine
tree – my pine tree. Suddenly, I hated that tree, so I retrieved a pair of clippers from the house and
severed every branch that faced the path. The pain from the past year finally caught up with me and
hardened my heart towards God. For the next year, I did not go through my woods and visit the tree.
I learned the difficulty of overcoming that kind of tragedy. At first, I didn't want to trust
God with my heart again. If I was his child, why had he put me through so much? Slowly though,
time played its part, and my wounded heart began to heal. The church eventually convinced David
to step down because he caused more harm than good even going so far as to question my father's – a
deacon – salvation. Since the church was again without a pastor or youth pastor, my dad stepped up
and became the official pastor of Greenbrier. Each week, listening to my dad's messages, the wall
around my heart cracked a little more until it crumbled, and I begged God for forgiveness. I apologized
for shutting him out and doubting him. Finally, I felt the peace I had missed for so long once more.
In March of 2014, we moved out of our house, the only house I ever knew, but before we left, I
walked through the woods one last time. As I made my way to the spot I was so familiar with, I
remembered all the good times with the G.A.s and God. When I reached that old tree, time had healed
it as well. The branches once more threatened to overtake the path, but if I looked closer, I could see
the marks where I cut away the branches. However, it had grown around that. It had persevered and
triumphed. Taking a step back, I realized that the pine tree was full grown now, just as Dad had
promised, yet I knew that even though it had matured, it still had room to keep flourishing. With that
comforting thought, I took one last look and returned home.
The similarities between that pine tree and I are hard to miss. Throughout my life, my faith grew
like that pine tree. It flourished quickly but was pruned in my anger. Eventually, it grew back. It
healed and came back stronger than before. Today, the pine is still growing, and I know that my faith is
too. There will be good days and bad. Storms will come and break a few branches. However, it won't
die so easily. I will persevere.
A/N: Okay, so, this is my final paper in Composition III. It's a true story and a personal essay - really more of a narrative, but this is what my teacher is calling them - and it was rather difficult to talk about. HOWEVER, I'm proud of my story and what I wrote, so I wanted to share. If you read it and liked it, let me know. Please, no attacks on my faith. It won't bother me, but I just wanted to put this out and leave it.
Hope you liked it!