Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When It Cuts to the Core

Ever had one of those revelations that unexpectedly cuts to the core of who you are? You just want to crawl into the fetal position and leave the world behind. Sometimes you crawl in so deep that you don’t even trust God with your brokenness, your misery.

As I drive around town I notice the winter nakedness of the trees. Once lush with flowing green leaves, the branches are bare. All the growth that offered shade, is now revealed for what it is…twisted snarled branches exposed for all to see.

How do branches get that way? Cold snaps of weather, wind and lack of water can all damage a tree.

It’s no different with life. The cold snaps when we feel alone bend us in ways which we don’t understand. The bitter winds rush through us as harsh words seethe through us, freezing the core of our being to the bone. But the lack of water, the lack of nourishment is what damages most. Trees need water, we need love.

A few weeks back I shared my thoughts on the seasons of our lives and compared them to the seasons of nature, Weather of the Heart and Life Imitates Art.

Seeing the bare branches reminded me of the winter of our lives. What we think is so cleverly hidden beneath the lush leaves of our summer lives, at some point is revealed and lies naked for all to see. No matter how much we pack away the hurts of our hearts, eventually the truth comes out.

In order to avoid ending up a dry withered stump, we must face our knotted, distorted wounds and work through them. Sometimes it’s best to prune the dead branches of our past out.

Gardeners shape their trees for best growth and aesthetic viewing. The dead branches sit all winter while the tree sleeps. In the spring, the careful gardener cuts back a 1/3 of the new growth.

It’s no different with us. At times we must sit and stare at ourselves to determine the dead parts and how we can trim ourselves for the best growth possible. We must sit in our misery and be patient while God works on us. Then in the spring, we prune back the dead branches and cut back a third of whatever growth we’ve done over the winter recognizing that not everything we take in is useful.

Pruning is necessary and John 15:2 describes it aptly: “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”

So while the revelations we realize during the winters of our lives might be difficult and painful, they are necessary for our growth. I rest peaceful—even if I am twisted and knotted—in the knowledge that this life prepares me for the next.

The pictures of the trees in this post are pictures of some of the same trees from my post Life Imitates Art without their leaves. Life is interesting, isn’t it?


Robbie Iobst said...

Love this, Loretta. And only THE Gardner can truly prune us. Sometimes, I want my husband or my friends to do the pruning, but they can't. I have to be by myself, with myself and God and let Him have his way. Wonderful post, friend.

Loretta Oakes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay Day said...

Thank you for this post, my friend.
Like you, I love trees. And the ones I love best are the most gnarled.

God have mercy on us as we endure the gnarling. We will be interesting and beautiful for it.

Loretta Oakes said...

I like that Kay...we will be interesting and beautiful for it! Thanks for saying that.

Loretta Oakes said...

Robbie, you're so right about the original Gardener! Thanks for that perspective.

Jan Parrish said...

And when the spring comes, God's glory is revealed. Love this Loretta.