Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things I Learned While Pruning My Bushes

I can't say that I particularly love the chore of pruning. I neglect it, dread it - and then have to make up for my delay by working even harder. Funny how that pretty much matches the figurative use of the word "pruning" for me as well..... I'm don't really enjoy being pruned or pruning others (challenging people in areas that need to be corrected), I sometimes delay doing it (or accepting the change needed in myself), and I always realize the longer I wait to address a change - the harder it is. With that in mind, here are some "nuggets" I came up with while dealing with this unpleasant chore.

1. It's always best to use the right tools when pruning.

Today, the clippers I used weren't as sharp as they have been in the past (probably because I tried to take down a major tree limb when they weren't equipped for that). It made me aware that the cut isn't as clean and sometimes tears can happen which would probably not make for the healthiest plant (in this case, this bush doesn't care, but you get my point). The same applies for the right technique. If I set to "prune" my son (i.e. - address a need that could be corrected, or area in his life that needs to be improved), I have many different ways I could do that. The right technique (tool) however, will result in the "cleanest cut" offering the least amount of hurt and resistance. Gentle words, appropriate timing, a firm trust previously established...... all positive techniques vs. how we can set about "pruning" in others (often our spouses) with harshness, anger, bad timing, or sarcasm - not such a good result.

2. While it may appear easier when tackling a big pruning job, to get right to the heart of the bush and cut one of the main "arterial branches", you may take off more than you want and steal away a lot of the beauty.

Trust me on this one - I did just that - on one of our more obvious bushes. It got me thinking that sometimes we want to generalize an issue - or attack someone on a big scale and it can lead to a huge gaping hole of hurt in the relationship. How much more effective is it to stay on top of our own pruning, or the problems we have with others by tackling the chore little by little as it comes.

3. Once you've done the pruning, the job isn't over.

Actually, if pruning was just about snapping with those big ol' shears, I might find it kind of fun. But, it involves clean-up - gathering up all those "now dead" branches and hoisting them into the bin. But, certainly, the job would not be done if I left the mess behind. The same applies to relational pruning, when you make a cut (even with the right technique) and risk straining your relationship by doing so, make sure you are around to do the clean-up as well - offering support, strategies, accountability, and most of all love to the person you are challenging.

So, that's it on the "deep thoughts from Steph" - next week look for "Lessons Learned from Cleaning Out the Garage" - just kidding!!!

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