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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. -John 15:2-6
When I was younger, I hated my hair. Then, I grew to love it. It was usually long, and always curly. Growing up, I’d hear the typical straight-haired comments- “Do you know how much money I spend at the salon to get hair like yours, getting a permanent?” or “You’re so lucky to have that kind of hair.” After I got married, and because we were trying to be frugal, I began letting my husband cut my hair-yes, I know-pretty shocking. I previously spent an upward of $65-not including a tip, just for a decent cut. Realizing my husband could do a better job than most stylists, I slowly began to trust him with my precious curls.
Well, about a week ago, I decided I wanted it a few inches shorter. I was tired of washing it, tired of styling it. It always ended up in a messy bun anyhow.
Sitting on the stool, he began hacking away like Edward Scissorhands. I realized I didn’t even care if he chopped too much off. This was pretty huge for me. Any other time and I would be constantly feeling and looking to make sure he didn’t cut an extra millimeter more than what I had instructed him. Tonight was different though. As the ringlets fell to the ground, it was as if a weight was dropping off of me and I just let it happen-without the worry, without the control. I let go and let whatever happen, happen.
Then, it dawned on me. This was symbolic of me dropping the weight of my life-my will, my ideas about how I think I should live, how we should raise our family, and instead, surrender to His will and what He wants for me and my family. It was about acceptance, surrendering to what is and where He has placed our family temporarily. That simple moment was about letting go and accepting right now for exactly what it is.
And as I sat there, I began thinking about how I’m in this season of pruning. God is in the process of trimming all of the dead branches to make way for the new shoots, the new fruit that he is beginning to produce in me. As He does this, I’m feeling a bit empty and bare. He’s stripping me of all I thought I was, in order to become more Christlike. It’s as though I’m being stripped of the bark to allow the good clean wood underneath to be used. Like when a log cabin is built, if the logs aren’t peeled first, the wood will begin to rot. It will decay. My life was once like this. It was in a state of decay because I wasn’t abiding in Him. and I didn’t even realize it. I was swimming up stream, getting caught in a vortex, and I couldn’t get out. I was getting nowhere, but I continued to live like I thought I knew best. This is self-will, my friends. And self-will never got me to where I truly wanted to be.
What I thought made me me, maybe wasn’t really me at all. Once, this social worker with a career that I worked so hard to obtain, running in this perpetual rat race, striving to be this super mom by chugging coffee all day long in order to fuel this fatigued body that was slowly breaking down, I was only sleeping three to five hours per night at most. I was the mom trying to make sure our girls got a top-notch education at a private Christian school, aiming to throw them Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, stressing about the perfect Christmas, making sure they were in the right after school activities. It was always about having the best and trying to be the best, but I see now that I wasn’t really living for Him at all. I was striving and striving and I didn’t need to.
I had it all backwards. See, I thought my identity lain in what I accomplished, but once those things were ripped from me and I drove myself into the ground too far for my health to bounce back, He kept me down so I could learn to have faith in Him-especially in the trials, to find my identity in Him-not in the world and not in my accomplishments, and He taught me and continues to teach me to trust Him more fully. I’m learning that my sole purpose in life is to love Him and love others like He does-His way, not mine. And despite the trials, His way is so much better. I’m home with my kids, homeschooling them and teaching them about Jesus daily. My husband has a work from home job, so we can travel and live wherever He wants us. I have less stress in my daily life and I’m healing. Our life is much simpler. We no longer own a lot of “stuff”, but we have Jesus, we have each other, and I’m slowly regaining my health. It is just enough and I have His peace, which far surpasses anything this world can give.
Even with all of the hardship we have experienced, we are extremely blessed. I see these blessings more frequently and more abundantly when I step aside and He is able to work, but this requires me to pick up His cross daily, and die a little more to myself. It’s a conscious effort and decision I must make every single day to turn my life and my will over to Him.
So let us continue to abide in Him, surrendering completely to His will. For only He can produce the fruit we truly desire. And only He can make us more like Him each and every day, But, and it’s a humungo BUT-we must continue to do this big thing-remain in Him. If we remain in Him, He will keep producing the good fruit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because apart from Him, we can do nothing. My efforts on my own, have proven futile.
Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit -John 12:24