Great oak trees grow from little acorns. And children (and adults) grow into great people if they are helped to “just be the person that God made you to be.” Max Lucado‘s beautiful picture book, The Oak Inside the Acorn, which is really appropriate for all ages, is a lovely metaphor for how that process works.
A friend shared this wonderful book with me recently, and I immediately asked her to read it to my Apprentice class that night. Her delightful reading brought tears to my eyes. I choked up again when I read the book to my grandchildren on Thanksgiving Day. And I’ll probably choke up every time I read it.
The book describes the journey of an acorn from his perch on one of his mother’s strong branches. He falls to the ground and eventually becomes Little Oak. After many life experiences, he finally grows to be strong and tall – Big Oak. Throughout his journey, he hears his mother’s voice saying, “Within you is a great oak. Just be the tree God meant you to be.” In the end he is able to pass that message on to the confused young woman who had shared her growing up years with him – swinging from his branches, carving her initials into his trunk, and lying on the grass looking up at the sky through his leaves. She, too, learns to be the person that God meant her to be.
The story of the oak in the acorn is so lovely because it helps us shed the false narrative that we have to work to earn approval and favor (even from God), that who we are is probably not good enough, and that the way to find love is to perform to expectations. The reality, of course, is that God loves us the way he created us. We just need to keep remembering, as the acorn did, that within us is a Great Person, and that all God wants is for us to be the person he means us to be.
And so, as much as he tried, the Little Oak couldn’t become Orange Tree, or Pink Petunia or Rosie Rosebush or Daisy. He could only grow up to be a tall oak tree, which is what God always meant him to be. We, too, need to learn to stop trying to be somebody else or somebody better and just grow up to be more of the person God wants us to be.