When we stood in the driveway and gazed upon our new home in Goldonna it was a sight to behold. It was a modest and picturesque older frame home with a circle driveway made of sand and gravel. There were large pine trees and oak trees covering the house with just enough shade to make you appreciate when the sun came beaming through the leaves. This country home was landscaped with 30-year-old azaleas and camellias. At first glance the older trees and bushes seemed overgrown. It still had tremendous potential for a breathtaking yard. We all tried to imagine the beauty once everything in the yard bloomed.
Sadly no one had a green thumb or really even understood what a green thumb did. As luck would have it we had a church member who was more than eager to take on the task of pruning the elderly shrubbery. She claimed to be able to restore them to their former glory. We watched helplessly as she cut the shrubs down to bare nubs. We saw the potential quickly burned in a trash pile.
There was no burn ban and we lived in the country. This is how we handled things. Our church member turned tree surgeon kept reassuring us that she fertilized them and we should see new growth soon and the blooms the following year should be stunning.
Every morning for what seemed like months, we would wake up with hopes this would be the day that we would see growth. There was none. Days turned into months. Months turned into years. If hope could grow greenery and blooms our yard would have looked like a page torn right out of Home & Garden. After about three years we gave up hope that we would ever see them restored.
Every time my father preached about forgiveness I just imagined he was referring to the church member who stole our yard’s dignity.
Our family did not understand the mechanics of heavy pruning and did not realize that the chopped bushes still had potential. We still gave up and made peace with the fact that our shrubbery was barren.
Pruning can be devastating but sometimes our own lives get pruned as well. Sometimes it’s willingly and we recognize the need to rid our lives of overgrowth.
We prune friends who are no longer on our same path or who are potentially just not good for us. We prune family members who we have completely given up on. We may prune a dead end job when there’s no potential or it just feels stagnate. Sometimes we’re so overcommitted with unnecessary obligations that we’re completely overwhelmed and lose sight of our true purpose in life. Sometimes we even see the need to prune our earthly possessions.
Pruning is simple when we authorize the changes.
Unexpected or unauthorized pruning feels like punishment because more times than not we are not strong enough to execute the pruning ourselves. When something is removed from our lives without our consent it is a hard pill to swallow. Something we will miss and something we had convinced ourselves that we cannot live without is gone. Somethings we were not ready to let go of on our own. We were too weak to realize that those branches were unhealthy and had to be removed. When this happens this season can be quite painful. We literally cannot see the potential for growth during this season. It can be dark and lonely.
But just like the landscape that we thought would never return, once it was fertilized for a proper amount of time and the right season came along… it bloomed. The blooms were larger and more full than they ever were before. Sometimes the blooms will be heartier and may even bloom in a better color than before. This is the season where you see a purpose for the pain. This is the season where God delivered you from your past and you see a promise for a great future. The true blessing comes when you can say, “I would go through that all over again just to be where I am today.”
I am blessed to say that the church member tree surgeon is still a treasured friend even today.
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to uproot
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to tear down and a time to build
A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to scatter stone and a time to gather them
A time to embrace and a time refrain from embracing
A time to search and a time to give up
A time to keep and a time to throw away
A time to tear and a time to mend
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace