As a girl, I’m no stranger to pruning. I’m sure you aren’t either. It seems that, at times, our whole lives are governed by the discipline of pruning; taking something that’s grown too large, too messy, too much and making it manageable. We “prune” our hair; those split ends have Got. To. Go! We “prune” our eyebrows. We prune our gardens. We “prune” our pantries and fridges, tossing out left overs and expired granola bars like dead branches. And yes, we “prune” our diets, taking those giant gardening sheers to the calories that cause us so much strife.
In a lot of areas, we are professional pruners. We have a keen eye for looking at messes and cutting them back, shaping them, into something more acceptable.
Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
I first began to learn this principle when I was about thirteen. Just saying the number makes me cringe. It proved itself to, indeed, be unlucky. Middle school is hard on any girl but especially one with a dark, black uni-brow shading my face like one of those awnings that roll out on RV’s. (Now I realize that this would be a perfect time to place a picture of my thirteen-year-old self, smiling back at you, braces blaring, but that would truly “break the internet” and since it’s the Holiday season, I figured, I’d better not do that.)
Thankfully, my mom and older sisters were master pruners. I spent many an afternoon sitting on my sister’s bedroom floor while she leaned over me with tweezers, plucking out those pesky hairs that earned me the nickname “Kyle” on the school bus.
Yeah. I know.
Pruning the hedges of hair on my forehead helped. Not only did I look better, I felt better about myself. All of that extra junk that was weighing down my self confidence was gone. Now, I’m not saying that we should find confidence solely in our looks. No, my meaning is deeper than that. I’m talking about pruning.
Jesus talked about it too.
“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 bear even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 (NIV)
He gets rid of the stuff that’s useless. Chop. Clean off. But the stuff that’s good, that shows potential, that bears a little bit of fruit, He prunes.
We are professional pruners. We know what this is all about. So why do we cringe when we read this. Why do we feel the need to try and hide the pruning sheers from God?
We prune and prune our lives on our terms but we sure do hold onto the brittle branches of the secret places when our gentle gardener comes calling. We forget that His intention is not to harm us. Not to take the things that bring us joy and dangle them in our faces, just out of our reach. We forget that His word said that he would prune us back so we could have more. So we could grow. Bear fruit. Arrive at our purpose and feed the world with a harvest of His love.
When my mom and sisters first suggested that I start tweezing my eyebrows, it was because they saw that underneath all of that hair, my eyes were ready to sparkle. They saw the beauty and potential that was hidden away. And they wanted to set it free.
Jesus sees the beauty in us. The stuff of storybook princesses that’s hidden away under layers of our own pride and humanity. He sees it and he wants to use it but, what good is a fruit tree that hasn’t been pruned? What good is a flower garden that hasn’t been cut back?
Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography
Beauty is revealed in the pruning, when the tall, brittle stalks that tower are cut down and the shoots of green underneath are allowed to breath and soak up the sun. Beauty is revealed in the pruning when the Lord says “My daughter, this flower in your hearts garden may look pretty but it’s a weed.” Beauty is revealed when he holds our hands, bends down, and pulls the dandelion, blowing away it’s wispy seeds with His breath of Life.
This New Year, will you trust the Gardener’s instinct? Will you yield to his Master-Hand? Will you trust that He can see past the brittle and the brown in your life’s garden to the potential and the beauty below? Will you ask Him as David did in Psalm 139: 23-24 to “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”?
The thought is a little overwhelming and, like thirteen year old me staring down the barrel of those tweezers, you might be afraid that it’ll hurt. And it might but the good news is, just like my sisters loved me and had my best interest at heart, so does our very good God. We can trust his practiced hand, the one that bares the scars that came from tending to us.
Beauty is revealed in the pruning. If you don’t believe me, then just ask Kyle.