I don’t have a green thumb. Although I do have a few plants, they’re survivalists in my house. A few weeks ago, I noticed one of my Schefflera plants had gotten spindly and sparse. I found some sharp clippers and started cutting. Before I knew it, I had a big pot of dirt with some sticks coming out of it. I felt bad. What had I done to that poor plant?!
The incident reminded me of a passage from the Bible in the book of John that says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2, New International Version).
What does this “pruning” look like in our lives? I see it this way: Because God causes us to express Him perfectly, whatever isn’t like Him falls away—is purged from us. God doesn’t allow any spindly sparseness in His creation, because it’s not like Him. God’s creation only includes that which is productive and leads us to Him—promotes our spiritual growth. He has created us to express Him in all His abundance and power. Without us, His spiritual image and likeness, “He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 303).
Some years ago, I had a friendship that looked a lot like that spindly plant I trimmed back. It had potential to grow, and I was waiting to see if it would. But it left me feeling unsatisfied, like a plant that was going in every direction but up. It wasn’t producing joy, satisfaction, and spiritual growth. Although it might seem obvious that the relationship needed a change, it wasn’t to me at the time. Like the plant, it existed, and it looked OK on the surface. I guess I wasn’t sure if it needed pruning, but I was open to it.
Demanding a change in a friendship—sometimes even needing to end it—is difficult. You might even see what needs to happen, but you don’t have the courage to follow through. Or, you may think it’s going to take a productive turn at any moment, so you stick with it. That’s how it was with me. I just wasn’t sure what needed to happen. So, I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do: I asked God to help me.
My prayer at the time was a simple one. It revolved around a psalm that says, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. It is good for me to draw nigh to God” (Psalms 73:25, 26, 28).
And that’s what I did. Every day I affirmed that my only desire was to know God better—to draw nearer to Him. Whatever was in my life that promoted that goal, I wanted. Whatever didn’t promote a better understanding of God and myself as His offspring, I was willing to part with. The shortened version of my prayer was, “Prune me, God!”
After some months, I started to notice that I wasn’t as interested in that relationship as I had been. There was no conversation that ended it. Like my plant’s spindly and sparse branches, the friendship was pruned away. I appreciate God’s help in that trimming work. And the result has been new growth. Other friendships that have been productive and satisfying have taken its place.
So what about my little plant? It’s growing, too. Not many days after I cut it back I saw a tiny green sprout on one of the bare sticks. I clapped and encouraged it! A few days later, I saw many more sprouts. Today, it’s well on its way to being full and productive. I was happy to experience new growth, and it looks like my plant is, too.
Some citations to consider in your own pruning lesson:
Science and Health:
Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy:
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!