I am in a season of pruning. God is working out the junk to replace it with something great. Part of this includes identifying what I thought was self-doubt. These doubts have actually been feelings of conviction. It feels as though God is showing me the parts of me that I didn’t even know were broken or decaying to prepare me for the pruning. So that way when the “pruning” happens, it hurts less. It reminds me of being in a hospital. Because sometimes you can be put on morphine and feel fine and dandy, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and take it because you know the results would be much worse if you didn’t. For example, on New Year’s Day my little sister, Lainey, cracked her head open. We met her in the emergency room not long before they had to put the staples in. If you know me at all you know I hate everything that has to do with hospitals, germs, and especially blood. And even though Lainey was terrified of the idea of getting her head stapled back together, she knew that is what would make everything better. So instead of flailing uncontrollably on the table while they injected the needles to numb the back of her head, she held still, cried a little, and got through it. I would be running around like a crazy person, but that’s beside the point.
Sometimes pruning can feel like a needle in the back of your skull and sometimes it can feel like a bug bite. I am not saying all of what God has been doing in my heart has felt like rainbows and gumdrops. Most of it lately has felt like gut punches. Still, part of me knows if I had not been prepared spiritually or talking to God about all of this it would’ve felt much more like head staples. Instead of flailing uncontrollably, I have been able to sit, close my eyes, hold back some tears, and say “Okay God, I know you know what you’re doing even if I don’t. Do what you need to do.”
Ironically enough I have really been interested in plants lately. Propagating, pruning, learning how to ACTUALLY keep them alive in a dry climate, all that jazz. There have been some plants that I look at and think there’s no hope for them at all. Maybe I overwatered them, gave them too much sun, too little sun, every plant is different. But whenever I think a plant is absolutely done for, I put it on the patio to dry out so I can dump it out and reuse the planter. Maybe I’m a plant killer or maybe I’m just frugal. The funny thing about it is, two of the plants that I put out there for weeks, just wouldn’t die. It has been in the hundreds here so I was confident that putting them on my patio without water would do the trick.
Last week I decided that maybe I could give them another chance. I mean, I can’t dump out a plant that is still alive! I brought them inside and started pruning them at the breakfast table. Tucker probably thought I was crazy to sitting across from him, eating my toast, and snipping away at my nerve plant, but living with me, he’s seen stranger. I picked out the leaves that had fallen in the soil, cut away at the rotted pieces, mixed around the soil a bit, and gave it some fresh water.
Even though these plants don’t look as beautiful as the other healthy ones, they’re getting better. My nerve plant has maybe 7 leaves left and 4 empty stems, but they’re alive and already doing so much better than when they were carrying around all that dead weight. Sometimes pruning, even though it looks ugly and weird and I can’t even imagine how that poor plant must feel when I come at it with kitchen shears, is necessary for survival. Those plants weren’t living on the patio, they were surviving. God doesn’t want us to get by and be okay with holding all of our crap and trying so hard to keep it all together. He wants us to live (and that can include some pruning).
I really understood this concept better when I read John 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
I have read the whole “I am the true vine…” passage probably 50 times. I have read it so many times that I have kind of become numb to the idea behind it. Which is why I only recently noticed that last part. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
I guess I thought it was “Every branch that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit is good. He lets them do their thing because you know, fruit is fruit. I’m going keto anyway.”
I hope you liked the JSV version. But seriously, I only recently noticed that even the branches that DO bear fruit still have to get pruned. I feel that as Christians we get caught up in the idea that just as long as we aren’t cheating on our spouse, lying to our family, or murdering anyone that everything we do is amazing. Let me clarify, I do believe God works through his people. But, one of the ways he works through us is by pruning even some of the things we see as “good” to make way for his “great”.
Like for me, God is showing me the ideas that I had (that I thought were the most important parts of me and my identity) were false and replacing them with the truth that is Jesus. He’s showing me that even some of the things I considered “good” about myself can become bad when I allow my identity to become consumed with them. And as much as I’d like to talk about all my spiritual baggage/convictions/good fruit that needs to be pruned to allow more fruit to grow, that is a whole nother blog post that I would like to share with y’all, but not quite yet.
So with all of that being said, God is working in you. Sometimes you don’t understand what he is doing. Sometimes all we see are the kitchen shears and staples and we forget what could happen if we don’t get rid of the rotted limbs or if we don’t put our heads back together. Pruning can be awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, but there is a reason for the pain. Our Father does not want us to get by and sit on the patio surviving off water from 3 weeks prior. He wants us to live and thrive and do great things in his name.