I mentioned to Bill one day that our three lilac bushes needed pruning, then forgot about it.  One memorable day not long after, I drove home and saw that he had pruned them (was, in fact, just finishing)–to about a third of the original size.  I was appalled.  But fortunately, the lilacs came back strong and every spring we see dark purple, lilac, and white blooms, one large bush of each. 

Different lilacs, still need pruning

Different lilacs, still need pruning

That’s a good lesson for all of us.  Our lives tend to get busier and fuller.  Technology only exacerbates the situation.  Where once we called someone on the phone and if they didn’t answer, we had to call again later, or we sent a letter and had to wait for one in return, we can now leave messages, text or email them…or all of the above.  Our phones, tablets and laptops, like the Lord, are with us “alway, even unto the end of the world.”  We’re available too many of the twenty-four hours of the day.

There are also calls on our personal time and it can be very difficult to say no.  We may feel flattered to be asked.  Whatever we’re asked to do may be something we love.  It may be job-related, in which case we may have to do it.  But whatever it is and however much we love doing it, more time is taken in an already busy schedule.

There was a woman at our former church who taught me to say no.  She and her husband were hard workers, helping with everything, and she also tried to get other people to get involved, sometimes too involved.  I finally realized I had to tell her I wasn’t going to take on any more responsibilities and then I had to not feel guilty about saying no.  It was my life, not hers, and I was already doing plenty for the church.

Take a lesson from Bill and the lilacs.  Pruning, even sometimes pruning that is apparently too deep, is useful.  It allows us space to rest, time to spend with the important people in our lives, time to build relationships and to nurture talents.  It gives us time to think and to realize what’s really important to us and what’s simply “stuff”.  It gives us time to “be.”  You may  need to prune deeply, then relax in the emptiness for a time to see where to go and what to do next.

Something else that needs pruning

Something else that needs pruning

Choose a few things that you enjoy and are good for you.  Do something that helps others as well.  If you can combine the two, even better.  Before you take on any other responsibilities, look clearly at how the new commitments will impact you, your health (mental a/o physical) and your relationships with family and friends.  It’s not your job to do everything.  If you try to, not only will you burn out, you’ll  take away the opportunity for someone else to take on a fulfilling task for which they’re well-suited.  And you’re also likely to harm your relationships, which need nurturing to grow.  Nurturing takes time.

Begin pruning today, enjoy your season of rest, and get ready for the new growth that will occur.  Remember, “Just say no!”

  1. Pruning lilacs you can never do to much. Actually despite their beauty they can totally take over like weed if one is not careful, Same thing for a lot of things actually. I enjoyed the read.

  2. I do so agree with this post.
    I do a lot for me. I mean that my schedule is busy enough.
    Since my stroke, I have had to learn to organize better and to “prune.”
    A lot of people don’t like it; some of them tell me.
    I apologize, but I am no longer in this world to fix everything and to stress myself into another stroke.
    Your words fell on good ears here.

    • Scott, it sounds as if you found out the value of pruning, either through choice or necessity or both. Sorry to hear about your stroke and glad you’re still around!


  3. I don’t like prunes…. but I don’t mind pruning.
    I don’t care for pears…. but I don’t mind paring.

  4. I am trying just that to say no. The lilacs are really beautiful.

    • Good! Just do one thing at a time and then wait before you do more. Glad you liked the lilacs. Soon it will be spring and the flowers will be out again.

  5. Hi Janet. A good post here. I did some pruning recently on things that I had no guilt feelings about doing either. One was dropping out of Friday Fictioneers. Hope I did not offend anyone but did not have a lot of time for it with so many other things going on, and not enough time to spend on other writing projects I had neglected. Yes, I believe too that one needs to prioritize their life, and time. I also have started making sure I spend more time with HIm each day and in His word. It is the first and foremost important part of my day even though at times things still get kind of busy and there are interruptions. But, I have found discipline is the key to making that happen.

    • Hi, Joyce. Good to hear from you. Sorry you had to drop out, but first things first. For everything there is a season. I need to get back into the Word more regularly, too. Thanks for the reminder and blessings on whatever you’re doing now! Stop by any time.


  6. Sarah Ann says:

    Thanks for a great post Janet. I’ve been pruning a few friends recently. I haven’t got the energy to keep phoning, texting and emailing to try to arrange to meet, and getting nowhere. Instead I’m going to spend more time with the people who matter.

  7. Joyce says:

    Thanks for the reply Janet. I have been writing and posting other short stories (longer than flash fiction, – you can find on my blog). The story right now I am working on is When Dark Closes In, a historical fiction piece taken place in Washington of young adults living during that time, one character, a soldier drafted into the army. My husband and I were eighteen in 1965, graduating from high school and he had to register with the draft, but was exempted and we were able to get married and go on out to L.A. so he could attend LIFE Bible college. I use fictional characters in my story with similar situations but bring the sad parts of the war into their lives. You can check out my first chapter (two parts) and most recent post about this story on my blog. The best to you too with your pruning and blogging.

    • I’ll try to get over there soon, Joyce, and blessings to you as you work on this. I think you usually post links on FB to your new work so I’ll check there, too.