It’s springtime! And for me, that means my peach tree needs some long overdue attention. In years past, we have had some amazing peaches from this tree. But last year we had some issues, and very few of them were edible. So it was really time to address how out of control all the branches had gotten, and get them pruned.
For those who google “how to prune a peach tree,” you’ll see that truly delicious peaches come from brutal pruning. The branches are supposed to be trimmed so sunlight gets into the middle of the tree. Peach trees tend to develop heavy canopies. All of those leaves make it hard for the peaches to properly ripen.
It also nicely shades the bugs who eat peaches, and can lead to mildew on the fruit. So I really chopped my poor tree. Not only did I need to make the sunlight reach the middle of the tree, I needed to shorten the branches because extremely tall branches only give you fruit that you can’t harvest.
Before I started, my peach tree was truly a beautiful mass of pink blossoms. If I were driving down the road and knew nothing of how peach trees should be, I would have really admired this thing. It was lush and eye-catching.
After I was finished pruning, the tree was exactly as it needed to be to produce the best fruit. I am truly excited for the harvest this year. But when I looked at the massive pile of branches on the ground, I realized there was now more off the tree than on the tree. My neighbor was stunned at the difference — and that got me thinking.
How many times in my life have I gotten to a point where I feel I’ve grown nicely, only to experience severe pruning from the Lord?
Stuck college student
I remember being in college and being at a similar point. I had graduated, and had gotten the prompting from the Lord that I needed to move on to SUU. But I was so happy and comfortable where I was that I decided to stick around for a year instead. I had wonderful roommates I loved, and cousins close by that I adored and rarely saw otherwise. I had two part-time jobs I loved, and an ex-boyfriend that I was having a hard time letting go of.
So the Lord stepped in and decided my spiritual tree needed to be pruned. Within the space of a month, I lost both of my jobs. My ex-boyfriend and I had such a massive fight that it became uncomfortable to even be in the same town with him. And another cousin of mine reached out because he “happened” to be driving down south to SUU and wanted to know if I wanted a ride.
I regret that so much had to be taken away for me to realize it was time for me to move on. But it truly was a wonderful, freeing blessing when I took a deep breath and jumped. I missed my friends. But new friends were waiting. I will never forget finding out that the Lord even had a calling He had been holding for me. I grew so much at SUU, and I loved it there. After my arrival, I wondered why I had delayed. That time of being pruned became a blessing.
This life is the time…
Most of us have had similar experiences. It is hard to make major changes when we are comfortable and happy. The easy life is a great place to be. That’s why we are often dumped out of our comfy places — because it is time for us to grow. At times like this, the scriptures remind me that “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 34:32)
Nowhere in scripture does it say that the purpose of life is to amass wealth and go on a long and plush vacation. Sometimes I wish it did. But the Lord knows that you and I need to be motivated out of our comfortable reclining armchairs so that we can go out and do some good in the world.
These times of pruning can be painful. But the end results bring blessings. I was recently given another chance to grow through some severe pruning. As you know, I have been homeschooling my son. In the process, we discovered a home-school co-op I loved. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, a co-op is essentially a private charter school run and staffed by the parents of the kids being taught there.)
Pruned to focus better
Now, you need to know that even though I loved this place, my son hated it. He would come about 50% of the time. He rarely had any interest in the classes being offered. But because I wanted him to socialize, I made him often. I wouldn’t consider leaving, because I was just sure that eventually it would work out. Oh, and because I had committed to being there, I often went without him.
I spent so much time and energy on this place, that we lost at least one day a week of our own schoolwork so I could prepare lessons for this co-op that he wouldn’t attend. Then I would go to the co-op two days a week and be so tired that we had shortened lessons that day. I was killing myself to teach other people’s children while neglecting my own. I needed to be pruned.
Do you see the problem here? Sadly, I didn’t. One day out of the blue, a representative of the co-op reached out and told me that this wasn’t working out. I was refunded my money (I had to pay to participate), and I was told to move on. I was hurt and disappointed. But you know what I should have done? I should have heaved a huge sigh of relief! My family was not being served belonging to that group. So much of my time was being sucked up that my son’s schooling wasn’t what it could have been. And I didn’t see it.
I’m grateful that by the next morning, I was beginning to see more clearly. And since then, I am more and more grateful that the Lord was watching out for me and my family. I often get myself committed to things and then struggle to get myself out. The Lord knows me better than I know myself, and He stepped in to open my eyes. He pruned my obligations.
I can’t say I know what we will be doing next semester to socialize. But I do know I am going forward much more carefully. My son needs to be the focus of our home-school activities. Never again will I allow my own obligations to make me forget what I need to be doing — teaching my son. Even though this most recent pruning was painful, it has been so good for me. And I pray that if you are having a similar moment of change in your life, you will be able to see the good that is coming out of it so that your spiritual harvest will truly be abundant.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.