Have you ever needed to say ‘no’ to something you really wanted to say ‘yes’ to? Last week I struggled with that very thing. An unexpected opportunity came my way that would have allowed me to be more involved with a group that I typically only have the chance to work with once a year.

But nearly as soon as I had received the offer, I realized that I needed to say ‘no.’ As much as I love the team and their mission, this particular role would take more capacity than I have to give right now. Responding with ‘no thank you’ was harder than I anticipated. Like a giddy fifth grader who gets picked for a team on the playground, I felt “wanted” or even valued. But deep inside my heart, I knew I needed to still needed to say no.

The timing of the offer came about the same time spring made an attempted arrival in the north east. Spending some time on a recent Saturday doing yard work, I was impacted by the simple yet necessary task of pruning our peach tree. The poignant lessons tucked in the effort uncovered 5 powerful reasons we should all consider pruning not just our tress but our lives.

1. Pruning reveals new growth.

Before our peach tree was covered with beautiful pink blossoms, you couldn’t see much change since last season from a distance. It wasn’t until we began the effort of trimming back the branches that we discovered a significant amount of new growth. Once we cut back the branches and drug away the clippings, we couldn’t miss the new growth. In our lives, sometimes it’s only after we cut back or say no -even when we wish it were a yes, that we can discover fresh new growth that wasn’t visible before.

2. Pruning focuses energy.

When a tree or plant is trimmed back, more nutrients can be sent to the remaining branches. In our lives, when we prune back our activities, we focus our priorities and energy to the areas that remain. If we over commit, we spread ourselves to thin and don’t have enough hours in the day or energy in our tanks to get it all done. If you’re feeling stretched thin, it might be a good time to take a step back and see if something needs to be cut back.

3. Pruning prepares for a better harvest.

Over the years, we’ve learned that when we prune our peach tree, we have better harvest. It’s the same in our lives. When we refuse to let ourselves get spread too thin, the efforts where we really invest our time and energy yield a better harvest. Lisa Terkeurst calls it the “Best Yes.” Saying yes to the best things, may require we say not to some things that seem pretty good but in reality dilute our efforts. When you focus on your priorities and let go of distractions, you can improve your yield and influence your harvest.

4. Effective pruning requires seeing situations from different perspectives.

As we pruned our tree, we needed to periodically step back and reassess the task at hand. Looking at the tree from different angles revealed new places that needed trimming. In our lives we need to do the same. Taking a step back can help us see our situation in a new light and help us to see the work in front of us more clearly. There may be times in life that we’re too close to see what’s in front of us clearly. In those times it can be helpful to ask a trusted friend to help us see our blind spots or areas we might miss on our own. Be open to feedback from perspectives that can help you continue to grow. And, of course, prayer is a very effective way to ask for insight and perspective that is beyond what we can see on our own.

5. Pruning indicates a change of seasons.

In life the thought of “cutting back” or pruning typically doesn’t sound inviting. Feeling as though we need to let go of something, even if we know the benefits of doing so, can be challenging. When you’re faced with needing to let go or say no, remind yourself that pruning is part of ushering a new season of growth. Focus on the positive change you’re facilitating to empower you to continue moving forward while isolating against becoming stagnant. Celebrate your change of seasons when you find yourself pruning in life. It means the winter is coming to an end and new growth is on its way.

It’s your turn:

Whether you’re an avid gardener or you just get by, the symbolism of pruning can provide valuable insight into our own journeys. Are you in a season where you need to trim back and focus your resources? Are you currently leaning into a new season with expected anticipation? Click to comment and let me know if this post encouraged you. I’d love to hear from you. And when saying no or letting go feels difficult, remind yourself that pruning facilitates future growth.

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Until next time friend, be blessed!

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