“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2) Sometimes there are seasons of planting, weeding and harvesting. I love those seasons! I have learned how God works in each of those situations and they are comfortable to me. I have recently figured out that I am in a season of pruning. Pruning is not comfortable. Pruning leaves you feeling raw and naked.
I remember as a little girl watching my dad prune a fruit tree in our backyard. It was so odd to me to think that he was cutting a tree that seemed to have it all together. A strong trunk, solid branches, green leaves and fruit scattered throughout the tree. The tree even had fruit hanging from it as he was pruning it. He seemed to know what he was doing but it seemed crazy to me. His cuts seemed to be causing more damage than good, but what did I know about trees and such?
The last 16 months have been filled with growth. Some days I have felt like I hardly know myself. I have wanted God closer, even though He is right there. I have wanted to feel normal, yet somehow even with a great life, I didn’t feel normal. At times, I have felt like a house undergoing an endless remodel, with no end in sight. And it is one of those remodels where you can’t just change your mind and turn back – I am far enough into the process that we must just keep moving forward, no matter how long it takes!
Little burst of encouragement come from the Spirit, but the challenging thoughts have seemed so much louder. The little bursts keep me focused and moving forward, but I have missed the clarity and peace of other more peaceful seasons. My thoughts have been in conflict, my heart and mind confused, and my actions have not been in harmony. And even though I have turned to the scriptures, prayer, meditation and all the other things that I rely on, the peace has not lasted like I want it to. Questions come, and even though I teach others how to receive revelation, I have wished that Heavenly Father would answer my queries with sky writing. I know that is not how it works, but wouldn’t it be nice to have sky writing now and then?
I have wondered what I am doing wrong. I have wondered how to make it right. And yet, it would be hard to describe to anyone what needs to be different. I just know I have not felt 100% like myself and I haven’t known what to change or how to bring the balance back. Normally I would engage in deeper relationships, or serve more, or write or blog, or just live a little more, and I just have not felt like it.
As I read the scriptures this week, I just prayed that there would be something just for me, for this weird season I had found myself in. This season was lasting far longer than I wanted. I opened my scriptures and started reading about pruning and that is when I knew that Heavenly Father knows exactly where I am at. He knows He is pruning me and He even knows why He is doing it. Even though I felt so comfortable before, this pruning will make me even better. As I read the scriptures I realized that sometimes even trees that are bearing great fruit need to be pruned in order for them to bring out even better fruits.
I realized that the pruning, while uncomfortable, is the best thing for the tree. The tree will be limited without the pruning. The pruning is critical in order to produce the very best fruit possible. The pruning doesn’t happen because the tree is broken. The pruning happens so that the tree has the very best shot at making a difference to the world. It isn’t that something was wrong with me, rather it was time to do some necessary pruning.
When a tree is being pruned, it doesn’t stand in self judgement and think, “Why am I not producing the fruit like that tree over there? Why am I not producing even the small fruits I know I am capable of?” The tree goes into a resting phase and prepares for the next season of blooming. The tree trusts that the fruits will come again. The tree trusts that the branches and leaves will fill back in. I for one, can’t wait for that day. Yesterday as I read the scriptures, that quiet voice said, “This is the pruning. I know it doesn’t feel natural, and I know you don’t like it and you want it to go away, but it is critical. For you to do what you are here to do, there has to be a pruning. Trust the process, let me in.” So right now, this is me being naked, while the Lord sets about pruning this branch and that one. And rather than resisting the process, I am breathing it in and seeing that this is just a season. So for now, I am practicing self compassion, I am being still, I am listening, I am taking care of myself, I am slowing down. It won’t last forever and it is okay to be vulnerable in the process. The day will come where I feel like myself (or rather a better version of myself) and know that the season of pruning was all worth it. If you find yourself in the pruning process, know this: A gardner would never take the time to prune a tree unless he had total hope in what the tree could become. God is there. He knows us. He sees more than we see in ourselves. He is helping us learn to love ourselves so we can love others more and ultimately help bring others back to Him.