In much the same way that a tree is not a forest, we can’t do it alone. To rise up and overcome life’s challenges, we need a forest of support. In this week’s Monday Minute, Muriel shares with us the importance of cultivating a healthy community.

A Tree is Not a Forest

by Muriel Gregory


I have been reading through a fascinating book about trees, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, a German forester. He starts his book with an exciting find he made while walking through the forest under his care. An ancient tree stump which should have decayed long ago was still alive. Puzzled by chlorophyll evidence in the bark, Peter discovered that the trees surrounding the stump were connected through their root system and supported each other. This discovery incited him to learn more about trees and their hidden lives. 


“A tree can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it.”

Peter Wohlleben


What is valid for trees is true for us. We call them battle buddies, accountability partners, and framily (friends who have become family)–a sisterhood that grew from life’s best moments and life’s worst times. Tight bonds that neither time nor distance can break. 


Our nomadic lifestyle takes us away from our blood family and our high school and/or college friends. The uniqueness of the military lifestyle with its particular struggles also makes it hard to convey our deepest fears and moments of celebration. We all long to be understood and have our feelings validated.

I have been very fortunate to have found this sisterhood.

To be completely honest, I tend to be more of a loner. An introvert by nature, I can find it hard to relate to other people. Last week I talked about a challenging deployment my husband and I experienced. Another lesson I learned then was that I needed a support group. To rise up properly, I needed help.


“Then I said to them, “you see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer “suffer derision.” […] And they said, “let us rise up and build.”

Nehemiah 2:17-18


After hearing the devastating news that Jerusalem’s walls were still broken down (see last week’s post), Nehemiah prayed and took action. The report had been devastating, and he knew he was the one to take action. What Nehemiah also clearly demonstrated is that he could not do it alone. He would need help and support from his friends. 

It can be tempting to be the lone ranger, but we are created to be in community.

From the very beginning, God knew that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). I often tell myself that I do not want to bother anybody, but the truth is that my pride kicks in, and I think I can handle it alone. 

Life has brought me to my knees many times, and I know life will knock me down again. I know now that I rise up faster and stronger when I share my struggles with others. I also quickly found out that my troubles were not unique but shared by many more times than not. 

We can’t do it alone.


Together we are stronger. Together we can rebuild.




Pause Impulsive by nature, I have too often rushed in instead of pausing. God beckons me to the quiet place where I pause and pray before responding to what is going on in my life. I invite you today to pause and pray with me. The Psalms are an excellent place for that. You can pick one that speaks to you today or join me and meditate on Psalm 19.


Train A Soldier does not go to battle untrained. If I want to rise up and build to last, I need to be grounded in the Word and apply the lessons learned to my life. Read Matthew 7:24-27. What is Jesus saying about building on a firm foundation?


Submit The same way we dedicate buildings and christen ships, we need to dedicate the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17). Offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his presence and his guidance, and dedicate your current circumstances to him. “Lord, I am eternally grateful for your love and guidance in my life. I commit my work to you, knowing full well that the plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3).” 



Lord, thank you for community, thank you for the people and the friends you have put in my life. I pray that I will never be too proud to ask for help, knowing full well I need support to rise up properly. Amen.