Cut it out!

I love to see things grow, and pruning plants has been a struggle. When we moved from the Idaho desert to lush, semi-tropical Florida, I relished all the greenery and the 12-month growing season. When something unknown popped up that looked promising I allowed it to grow. In addition, as I walked my dogs, I couldn’t leave a living plant waiting for the garbage truck. Home it went, and into my garden. My slogan: Let it grow!

Too late, I found I’d welcomed weeds and invasive exotics (imported as potted plants). The only way to rid my garden of the pests would be to kill everything and start fresh.

I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, kill all my little darlings, so I spent days in the hot Florida sun and humidity, pulling weeds, trying to stay ahead of them before they took over and smothered my desirable plants.

When we moved to a house with over an acre of land, I encountered sandy soil that dries out quickly and areas that won’t support anything but weeds. This fostered my unfortunate “let it grow” bent.

After years of random growth in what my husband calls “Jane’s Jungle” and flagging energy, I’m daydreaming about a fire hose filled with weed killer. Wipe out everything. My new slogan: When in doubt, cut it out!

You may be wondering if you’ve wandered into the wrong website, or if I’ve suddenly shifted to a gardening blog.

Not really. All of my life I’ve felt God speak through nature. More than just the grandeur of a sunset or the power of boiling thunderclouds, even small things can whisper glimpses of truth. God weaves the power of his reality in us, and all around us.

It’s all a matter of having the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

After a year of struggling with my health, and my reluctance to cut things back, we had a lot of shaggy, pitiful looking plants. One cool spring morning several months ago I felt well enough to try out my new clippers. I managed to trim a few porterweed bushes before my arms turned to mush. Several weeks later, I was shocked to discover the difference between the trimmed ones and the ones which had grown uncontrolled for two years.

unpruned
unpruned

two weeks after being pruned
two weeks after being pruned

Then came the still, small voice.

Pruning came make you stronger, more attractive, more fruitful.

I thought of Jesus saying we’d do better to cut off a hand that gets us in trouble. That always sounded a little over the top. (Though I have to admit, there was an abusive person I’d have been happy to apply that one to. But not myself!)

Pruning – correcting — is an area where I’ve tended to get in a muddle. My version was working to get it right, please everyone.

That left me with stunted growth.

A few times I’ve gone to the other extreme, thrown off constraint and ‘lived it my way.’ That was like an untended garden covered with weeds, the good getting blanketed by the undesirable. And the littlest ones getting hurt the most.

Now I understand my part — Controlling those thoughts that drive so much undesirable emotion, action, or inaction.

I am learning to take every thought captive.

You may have heard that a lot. I figured it meant to think “nice things.” Yes, we are encouraged to put our focus on good things.

But for me, right now, it means recognizing the lies I’ve listened to far too long, and giving them the boot, with the help of God’s Spirit.

The voice that says I can’t make that phone call,
can’t face that person,
can’t handle the traffic or the crowds,
can’t say something another doesn’t want to hear,
can’t disturb the water,
can’t make that person mad,
the voice that pesters me for days over something I said, or didn’t say,
worrying me about what “they” think.

I thought it was just who I was, the way I think and feel, the results of my nature and my childhood.

But I see now that I can chose to cut those thoughts out of my life, one lie at a time.

It’s hard.

Sometimes it hurts.

But I’m liking the results. And that encourages me to go for even bigger ones.

What about you? Do you struggle with any of this?
Are there lies you’ve believed you’d like to be free from?