It’s funny how things work out. A year ago, I wasn’t excited to turn twenty-two. There was nothing to look forward to, I thought. While I didn’t do much by way of partying, I still felt celebrated, loved, cared for. Twenty-three, however, was my golden birthday. I was so excited for the golden year ahead, for the newness it would bring. And while I am thoroughly excited for this new year still, its onset came with more anguish than I expected.
I’m starting my golden year being stripped of many things; shedding old skin; starting afresh. Again. I know this is the cycle of life and love and humanity but it’s easier to embrace it when it’s outside of me. Fall is my favorite season of them all precisely because of the incredible beauty to be found in the process of dying and being laid bare. The leaves are never more glorious than in their demise. I could gladly live in a state of perpetual Fall.
But when my heart is the backdrop for the changing seasons and my dying leaves are things I’ve held dear for so long, I begin to crave Summer more than I ever have. No matter how frequently this cycle occurs, it doesn’t become less painful. In fact, in my experience, it becomes even more torturous.
Yesterday, I crossed something off my list of goals for 2012. It may seem simple or trivial but for the first time in my life, I finished a journal. I’m not a finisher (or at least I’ve never been) and I have the terrible habit of walking away from things mid-stride and moving on to something new. As a first step to recovery, I was determined to cover every last page of this journal in my own scribble, and I am beyond proud to say that I did. Someone once told me that every time she finishes a journal, she goes back and reads the entire thing in one sitting. So last night, I did.
And I found this little paragraph written by a version of me four months younger, who couldn’t possibly have known that the person she’d be in a few months would need to hear this again. In the midst of a conversation with God, I wrote:
Remember that He only prunes the branches that are bearing fruit. If you were dead, you would be cut off and you wouldn’t feel the discomfort and agony of His shears. He’s pruning you because you’re already bearing fruit – and He wants you to bear even more. He prunes and He disciplines only because He loves.
If I could go back four months and thank myself for writing that, I would. I’m etching those words into my heart for these unpleasant days, reminding myself that pruning typically happens right before a period of growth; that my chest physically aches only because He loves me enough to want me to grow.
I feel like I’m simultaneously living in two seasons – watching things die while being pruned for new growth; experiencing the excruciating pain of Fall’s death while rejoicing in the birth of Spring. It makes for much solitude and tears. It makes for much journaling. And if I’m not the only one, then know this: it only hurts this much because we are already bearing fruit. Pruning is only for a season.
Eventually, Summer comes around and we’re once again in full bloom.