Aaron, my brother, got Bessie’s green thumb. My great-grandmother was an award-winning gardener as well as painter, baker and domino player among other things. She was good at everything she tried. If the Enneagram would have been popular when she was alive, she would no doubt be the poster child for 3’s. She was legit playing dominos and winning until the week she died at the ripe old age of 101. And don’t you DARE try to talk at the table during a game of 42. She would shush you with all the piss and vinegar her little 5’2” frame could muster. But with all the wisdom passed down from Bessie Mae, I think her knowledge of growing things is what those who loved her still go back to most.
So as fall began to think about possibly making an appearance in Texas, I got the urge to spruce up my yard and flower beds. In an effort to save money (see also “cheap”), I decided to try and revive some of my current foliage that had not fared so well in the summer heat. I called my brother and asked all the things about soil mixture, shade patterns and watering times. And while is he a wealth of knowledge about all those, one thing he said stood out like a flashing neon sign. Almost in passing he said, “Just be careful because when you prune a plant, you are telling it that it’s time to grow.” DANG.
That. Will. Preach. It’s like every time I take my super fancy scissors outside and start to clean up one of my precious blooms, the Lord starts to talk to me about all the dead things He is removing from my life right now. To be honest, some days I just cry. Because it hurts. Because it sucks. Because it’s hard. I don’t like it. And just as I start to plan the pity party I should throw for myself, my brother’s words come back around again and I remember that the end result of all of this is growth. And growth is good. Growth is a sign on life.
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 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 15:1-2
You don’t really need a translator here to understand the words of Jesus. Pruning is an act of love. Nothing is spared. Every part gets touched. Logically, it makes sense. That’s how living things work, right? But to be honest, some days it doesn’t feel like love. It feels like loss and grief. It feels like going backwards. It feels dark and heavy and messy.
It is a classic battle of head vs heart, and therefore I have a choice to make. I can bury my sorrow in a bag of salt and vinegar chips followed by a good shesh of trashy tv. Or I can choose to fight the feelings with the facts. For me, that looks like taking a deep breath, kicking off my shoes, and walking around in the sunshine. When I feel the warmth of the sun beating down on my skin, the love of the Son penetrates my heart once again. Here I am reminded that love IS hard and messy and sometimes requires us to pay the price of loss. Pruning isn’t wrong. Pruning isn’t forever. This current season only looks like death when I forget about the One who brings dead things back to life.