Pruning your life a bit is a very good thing.

by Captain Bradley

As my first post details, my church-free life hasn’t exactly been sermon-free. My faith is firmly intact and I get a dose of Preacher Andy or Preacher Sarah’s wisdom on Sunday morn via “Rejoice” on tv. Yes, our church has a weekly 30-minute telecast for like fans of Sundays in pajamas.

Catching up on a couple of sermons on Mothers Day, one of Andy’s metaphors jumped out at me. He told a short story about his pruning of his home’s azalea bushes. His wife didn’t have much confidence in his pruning ability, but the preacher pruned away…yearly over 3 years. Now, those bushes are the right shape and yield bigger blooms than ever. Pruning away excess worked wonders on the plants, as I believe it does for us.

This past weekend, several totally unrelated human stories crossed my path and, boy, could they use a little pruning consideration. One was a couple with serious health concerns and too much “stuff” to fix and maintain, which takes way too much time away from one another late in life. Another is a single mother with a derelict 25-yr old son that seems to disappoint her daily, while she struggles to pay for all he has in life. Another was simply one of the most dapper businessmen I know. Always impeccably dressed. Very CFO. He seems to live for work. God bless ’em all.

By our own choosing, especially after the financial meltdown of September 2008, we’ve been pruning away more ways than most Gen X’ers could imagine. Letting go of “stuff” was tough in the beginning and just kept getting easier over time. As I tell our kids, “you don’t own stuff. Stuff owns you.”. It’s true. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the rewards of personal and professional success. However, it is amazing how magnified the little pleasures of life become as you age well, experience serious fun and loss, and reset your expectations and priorities. Our pruning over the years has forced our family of 4-6 (expands when our older girls visit) to be literally, physically, and emotionally closer together…much different than that eye-opening moment when we lost our young child once in our “dream home”. Actually, quite the ironic nightmare. Pruning life means less “stuff” to maintain, less acquaintances and stronger friends, and, most of all, more time for positive-energy moments, days, weeks, etc. Less stuff. Less to-do’s. Less paid help for what we cannot do. Less bills. Less time invested in people and places we say are less important than our family, home-life, and whatever really gives us purpose. A Purpose-Driven Life is so much more than a revenue generator for Pastor Rick Warren . It’s a great book to remind one of what he or she vales most.

One can choose to value the accumulation of stuff, under the guise of providing “experiences”. One can choose to house, feed, and enable a derelict son or daughter all the way to foreclosure. One can choose, especially if he or she is the primary bread-winner, to live to work so their family can enjoy him or her someday. But…maybe a little pruning would yield even more life-long fruit. Maybe.

Just like life, stuff will come and go. Good health for you and loved ones will come and go. Irrelevant people will come and go. My tolerance and patience for those who complain about the perils of too much to do, too much stuff to care for, and no time for what they value most are long gone. By the time one reaches middle-age, it’s time to shut up, purge any and all respective pains in the ass, and really enjoy the greatest paycheck known to man…freedom.