To have more in life, you need less of it. Let me explain.
In front of our house, we planted a red-tipped photinia a few years ago. Our goal was to hide a chimney that seemed to stick out of the view.
The shrub grew…and grew…and grew. It shot up and spread out, becoming misshapen.
We knew we had to do something.
It did not take long for Google to yield the answer. If you want a plant to grow well, you prune correctly.
The site showed how the cuts change the shape and growth of a plant. It became clear that the only way to grow straight was to prune away the branches that depleted the energy the plant needed to keep growing.
Armed with pruning shearers, we started snipping and watched foliage fall free. The question kept floating, “are we killing this plant?” (I am an experienced plant assassin!)
But the plant not only grew but also flourished. Now, each year, we return, shearers in hand, and prune more.
Life presents the paradox that the only way to grow is to take away. Get rid of the pieces of a life that do not contribute to growth. Without pruning, all living things are doing nothing more than slowly dying.
What goes for the garden applies to life and spirit. Without cutting back to the essentials, even good things drain the energy that creates growth.
Funerals have become a routine part of my life. When I attend a funeral and talk with friends of my age, they are saying, “this is my last year, and I’m retiring. Life is worth more than the job I have.”
American society, as it comes out of COVID winter, is changing. Company HR managers are finding resignation letters in their inboxes. Some estimate that over 90% of workers want to change directions of careers and employers. For several months, people had the space to ask, “Is this what I want?” And many realized the answer is no.
The question haunts me. Is it time to prune my life?
I have started taking a seasonal approach to life. What do I prune in this season of my life?
Activities accumulate. Projects flow to a person, at least they did to me. I did them because I always did them.
Yet, one question burns inside.
How does this serve my life? Does it contribute to the direction I want to go? Or does it only fulfill the expectations of others?
So I took out my spiritual pruning shearers. I have started to surrender things I have always done to the cutting floor. At first, I felt anxious about dropping them. But now, I know it was best for me and others.
To prune a life, you have to grasp three ideas.
- What are your strengths?
- What are you doing that others can do that you don’t need to do?
- What could you do if you let go of something else?
What happened when I pruned my life of the good? I could invest time in things that affected more people more profoundly. I have a morning devotional program. It doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of time but does need both creativity and focus. It can help people better than any meeting I am forced to attend or report to write. By letting something fall to earth, I can grow in the best direction.
I have found it takes courage to do that. People will be displaced and disappointed. That’s ok, but the earth keeps on spinning.
And it is frightening. How can I be the same person if I don’t do the same things? I can’t, but I can be a better version of myself when I cut away the processes in my life that hold me back. It does take courage to put the shearers to your life.
Voltaire supposedly said, “The enemy of best is good. Too often, we settle for the good in life at the expense of what it could be.
Why settle for ok. None of us were born to be cogs in wheels. What in life do you need to jettison?
Take a hard look, an honest look. Then, take out the shearers. Growth will come, and life will be richer than you could ever imagine.