Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Having been a desert and city dweller for the last two decades, I haven’t had much of a chance to garden before.  However, now that my husband and I are living in the suburbs with a lawn, yard and woods (!), I’ve been enjoying “decorating” in nature this year.  One of the most interesting aspects of gardening is deadheading.  It is an awful sounding term that describes when you pluck off old flowers so that new ones have the chance to grow.  If you don’t regularly deadhead your flowers, your plants still will live, and they will look OK.  However, if you consistently remove all the old flowers, your plants will grow exponentially.  They will create more and more flowers and will look simply gorgeous.

Just like we need to deadhead our flowers to bring out their greatest beauty, we need to prune ourselves regularly to become our best.  One way we do that is by eliminating approaches to life that are no longer serving us.  For example, a couple of years ago, my daughter went through a period during which she decided to “test the boundaries.”  Testing boundaries is a nice way of saying that there was a lot of back talking and arguing.  The easiest thing I could have done would have been to continue to be the laid back mom and ignore the bad behavior.  But the easy way out as a parent typically doesn’t serve our children.  Instead I had to prune off the idea that I could properly parent and remain my former easy-going self.  Instead, I had to become a stricter parent.  I didn’t enjoy it, but because I gave up my old ways for new ones, my daughter now is developing into a hard-working, disciplined young woman who is a lot of fun to be around.

We sometimes also need to deadhead the parts of our personalities that don’t serve us.  Some of those parts probably have never served us.  For instance, I have a “slow boil” temperament.  I’ll tolerate poor behavior for quite a while and simmer with irritation.  Then, without a lot of warning, I’ll hit a boil and lose my temper.  It isn’t a good approach to human relationships.  That is a part of my personality that I am trying to prune.  There are all kinds of personality traits that each of us could deadhead and replace with new and better blooms. We can replace anger with patience, judgement with compassion, hopelessness with a positive outlook.  The list goes on and on.

The most difficult part of deadheading in life is when we have to eliminate those people in our lives who continually hurt us.  That is hard.  Human relationships are difficult to sever.   Sometimes we can completely end those relationships, but at other times the best we can do is to distance ourselves from certain people.  The most important thing that we can do when pruning relationships is to avoid the instinct to feel guilty.  While some people intentionally treat us poorly, others simply do not have the skills to be in healthy relationships.  Either way, it doesn’t serve them (or us) to remain connected to them.  Some people only learn that their behavior needs to change when the people in their lives no longer want to interact with them.

I used to think that the pruning process was something that we worked on as teenagers.  I believed that by the time we became fully formed adults, our personal pruning had ended.  However, life experience has taught me that nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am 46-years-old, and I continue to deadhead in all areas of my life.  Like my flowers, I could survive and be an “OK” person, if I remained unchanged.  However, if I really want to bloom and become the individual that God created me to be, then I must continually prune and refine myself as a person.  My only hope is that at the end of my life, I will have deadheaded enough to finally become the kind of person that God hoped to create.

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