Braid Mission


Tree People


I can’t say that I have ever watched many of Tyler Perry’s films, even as popular as they are.

However, when Tyler Perry decided to leave Hollywood and move his enterprise to Atlanta, Georgia, I was intrigued by what would become of his venture, mostly because I like Atlanta and I like Tyler Perry’s spirit.

Over the years I have come to know pieces of Tyler Perry’s story: raised in an abusive family and challenged by the racism that exists in the film industry, he found ways to overcome these challenges. Along the way he found himself and established and built a very successful studio.

I had occasion recently to hear him being interviewed on television. In that interview he named his faith as being fundamental to his success. It wasn’t so much about his religiosity as much as it was about his knowing who he was, where and how he was anchored in life, and that he had worth and purpose.

In the interview he was asked about a metaphor that he refers to often in his public speaking, including in his movies, that has guided his life. His metaphor is described by the character Madea in his play “Meet the Browns.”

“I have this tree analogy when I think of people in my life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, whomever…They are all placed inside what I call my tree test. It goes like this:


Some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. You can’t depend on them or count on them because they are weak and only there to give you shade. Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life they are gone. You can’t be angry at them, it’s just who they are.


There are some people who come into your life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but you have to be careful with them. They will stick around through most seasons, but if you go through a storm or two in your life it’s possible that you could lose them. Most times they break away when it’s tough. Although they are stronger than leaves, you have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, you can’t be mad with them, it’s just who they are.


If you can find some people in your life who are like the roots of a tree then you have found something special. Like the roots of a tree, they are hard to find because they are not trying to be seen. Their only job is to hold you up and help you live a strong and healthy life. If you thrive, they are happy. They stay low key and don’t let the world know that they are there. And if you go through an awful storm they will hold you up. Their job is to hold you up, come what may, and to nourish you, feed you and water you.

Just as a tree has many limbs and many leaves, there are few roots. Look at your own life. How many leaves, branches and roots do you have? What are you in other people’s lives?


Actually, in the interview he mentioned how a tree often has just three strong roots and those three will go deep and anchor that tree. His counsel to the panel on the show and to the audience in the studio and the TV audience watching was that they look for three people to be roots for their life.

I think the metaphor works! For obvious reasons!

You are the roots for a young person’s tree.

They may not be able to appreciate this fact fully or even have the cognitive ability to identify it or name it. Yet.

But you know. We know.

You are the roots that help hold your youth in place in the storm that is often their life.

They have found something special in you!

You are the gift!