Time to prune?
My Jatropha tree hasn't been looking so great these days. Not all branches are producing leaves and flowers, new leaves look shriveled and overall the growth seems stunted.
Pruning. It's an interesting process of removing dead and dying branches to encourage long-term health. There are different types of pruning that serve different purposes such as getting rid of pests that could infect a tree, or thinning branches to allow more light to reach the tree. Pruning can even teach a tree how it should grow- you can literally train a tree from a young age.
When faced with needing to prune plants and trees, I'm never ready to do it because I tend to focus on the loss. It feels like I'm cutting away important branches, pretty leaves, and beautiful flowers. It feels like I'm leaving the tree in a sorrier shape than it was to begin with. I don't confidently believe that going through a time of loss will actually produce more than I could imagine in the long run. But, as I stare undecidedly at my plants at the end of winter, I'm reminded of how God shows himself in the natural world.
"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:2
Are there things in your life that are stunting your growth? Things that are slowly eating away at your potential? Things you are afraid to let go of because you think the loss will leave you empty? Maybe it's time to prune.
For a few years before leaving my job, I could sense unhealthiness coming over me; increased stress, decreased sleep, relationships hurting, demands outside of my home building, health concerns rising, and soul-keeping diminishing. I had the notion that cutting things out of my life would cause more harm than good. I thought the loss of doing what I love would dismantle my purpose and not being surrounded by amazing people would leave me empty. Thankfully, I was wrong.
On the verge of determining what needed to change, I only focused on what I'd be losing and had little imagination for what I could gain. Once the branches of me that were infected by the plague of busyness and achievement were pruned, the rebound was noticeable much quicker than expected. Headaches, nerve pain, and muscle tightness were soon reduced. The branches that remained began to grow healthier and produce good fruit in the form of closer relationships and peace. New branches that I didn't anticipate began to grow in a wonderful direction as I wrote my first children's book with my son.
Spring officially begins in 2 weeks. By design, this is when the natural world awakens. Plants sprout new life and animals awaken from hibernation. Spring is an ideal time for pruning since conditions are prime for new growth. Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” I hope that you not only plant a garden (it's good for the soul), but that you believe there is hope in tomorrow so much that you are willing to prune away that which negatively affects your long-term health.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1