Have you ever seen an overgrown garden? There is a certain beauty to the ebb and flow of one piece of greenery overlapping the other, it looks as if that’s the way God intended it to be. As the gardener who placed each plant and chose them for that space, I see it with different eyes. Watching one domineering stalk overwhelm a small vine or sprout can frustrate me because I value the beauty of both. It becomes important to trim back the one so the other can get its glimpse of sunlight. In the end, the behemoth plant also becomes stronger and more beautiful because of it’s trimming.
One example of this is found in rose bushes. If the gardener wishes to strictly experience the natural look, a rose can be left alone and go unpruned. There is a price to pay for this lack of attention though. The naturally growing rose-bush will cease to produce the beautiful flowers whose blooms the gardener chose in the beginning. The bush will grow stalky and eventually can become become diseased. It can resemble a weed if care isn’t given. The practiced grower knows the value of pruning at the proper time. If done with care to the plant and knowledge of its needs, a thorough pruning, where multiple stems are removed, results in a more lush and flowery rose.
I see this lack of discipline in my garden today. It’s been a great year for tomatoes, but the bushes have developed so grandly that they are overtaking the entire six-foot by six-foot space. Below them sits a zucchini vine simply praying for a little sunlight. It’s holding on, but the tomatoes will require trimming for the zucchini to succeed. A little trimming will also grant my tomatoes a longer growing season.
As parents, we struggle with the concept of discipline. It seems so harsh. We don’t wish to break the spirit of a beautifully created mind and heart by asserting ourselves into their space and telling them “no” or “stop”. The catch here is that by not giving boundaries to that same child we end up harming more than helping. We think it’s natural to simply let a child do his or her thing and we root for the possibilities. That child then spreads themselves so thin that blossoming becomes impossible and they take over the entire household.
In John 15 we see an example of God pruning us to help us grow. It’s a kind of discipline He provides in our lives.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1 and 2
This type of discipline helps us to grow stronger. God, being the ultimate father, wants the best for us and He knows what that is. As parents, we can learn from Him and help our children by giving them boundaries and limits. Some children require more limits than other as some plants need more pruning than others. In the end, each has the opportunity to reveal its full potential and produce a fruitful life.