I finally got outside today and did some pruning of the trees and bushes. It was an absolutely beautiful day today. I knew that I needed to be outside today, because I had a tough day with the depression and post traumatic stress yesterday. MLC really wanted me to make sure that I got out of the house today and into the sunshine.
After I pruned my crepe myrtles (If they die, no big deal. They were planted too close to the house anyway.), I went to look at the last tree Keith planted for me before he died. He planted me two weeping willows. The first one he planted is in the back yard and is beautiful.
The second willow Keith planted in the front yard. It has not done so well. The heat just about killed that willow during the summer Keith died. The kids and I watered, watered, and watered that little tree. It looked dead. I pruned the dead branches and we watered some more. It came back some.
The kids and I watered the tree some more this past summer. The tree had grown a little bit, but there was still a lot of dead branches on it. I cut off what I knew was dead, and decided to just leave the tree be until some other time. I hated cutting off all the dead branches. It just about broke my heart. I really was sure that little tree was dying and I couldn't do anything about it. As strange as this comparison may sound, that little tree dying felt very similar to the acceptance of Keith death.
Keith was dying and there wasn't anything I could do about it. Nothing. Not one thing.
Today was the arrival of the "some other time". I took my loppers and went to see if the tree was still living. As I was looking at the branches, I began to notice little, tiny green leaves just beginning to bud. In amongst the living branches, the dead ones were waiting. I really did not want to cut off anything off that tree. Then I remembered (or maybe it was God whispering in my ear) something that I learned about plants a long time ago. The dead parts of the plant have to be taken off so that the new growth can get enough nutrients.
By cutting off the dead branches or pruning the crepe myrtles, new growth is encouraged and the plant gets stronger.
God is pruning His children daily. I realized that is one of the benefits that will come out of the trials of Keith's death and Nick's latest battle with cancer. God is using all of these trials to prune the dead branches off of me and probably other people who are walking through this with us.
God has been pruning me all my life. The pruning hurts sometimes. I have always grown though. My spiritual journey took a huge turn when Nick got sick the first time. I learned what faith meant. I learned what hanging onto faith meant. I learned so much about myself and my belief in God during that time.
I learned even more about myself and my God during Keith's illness and his death. I am still learning more and more as I walk this widow's walk. I am learning more as I am working to bring myself and the kids through Nick's latest battle with cancer.
I realized, while I was pruning and cutting today, that I would not be where I am in my faith without the pruning that took place during all of these past struggles. I KNOW that my faith and belief in God isn't some weak tree that is starving for water. My faith is strong. It's been made strong by all of the trials. I realized that, even though the storms of life rage around me and I feel like I'm being swept away, God isn't going anywhere. He is here...right by my side. He has been there the whole time, through every trial and storm, through every sunrise and sunset. He continues to be with me...every moment of every day.
All I have to do is reach out my hand.
So remember, when life is painful, God may be using the trial as a way of pruning your faith so that it will grow into something strong and beautiful.