I could feel anger boiling up inside of me again. It was that kind of anger that leads to so much frustration that you just have to cry. I think mommies are supposed to be the strong ones, but I had had it. I plopped down in the grass, put the little one between my legs, and cried. “God, why is this so hard?” My oldest and I had butted heads all day. I had been short-tempered. She had been stubborn and rebellious. The problem is, I’m also stubborn.
Before having a child, I thought I would be a perfect mom. We would make crafts. We would bake. We would cuddle. We would memorize Scripture. We would sing. And, I would never yell at my kids.
But here we were again. I had yelled. She had yelled back in defiance. Now I was crying while she played. This motherhood thing can hurt so badly. I want to show love. I want to give her good things. Then she acts in a way that makes it impossible for me to give her all the good things I envision, and I have to discipline and instruct all while messing up myself.
Earlier this year, my husband and I read through John, and something in John 15 really stuck out to me.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)
I’ve read this passage many times before, and in all honesty it’s never been one of my favorite passages. I get the visual messed up. Are we the vine or the branches? For some reason, it’s just hard for me to remember. (Answer: Those in Christ are the BRANCHES.) But, this time I noticed the word “prunes.” Who does the Lord prune? Those in Him who are bearing fruit. It’s not the branches that don’t bear fruit. The ones who do bear fruit are pruned. I often think that if I am doing everything right I won’t experience any pain, but the Bible doesn’t back that up. And why does He prune? In order for us to bear MORE fruit.
And so I am pruned. You see, I have lots of little tendrils coming off of my branch that aren’t always nice tendrils. My darling girls expose a lot of those. I am selfish. I am easily angered. I am prideful. I am self-reliant. And so I am pruned. Ouch.
Here’s the good news. All this fruit that we are supposed to bear with this pruning doesn’t come solely from us. We don’t have to carry that heavy responsibility. Yes, we need to seek the Lord and hold to spiritual disciplines, but the Lord produces the fruit.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. … apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
Even when writing this, I see so much that I want to exegete* in that passage of Scripture. It’s so rich. I love the visual I get when thinking about abiding in the Lord. But, perhaps that’s a topic for another day.
One more piece of good news. When that precious girl who had angered me to the point of tears saw my tears, she ran inside the house to get her favorite stuffed animals to comfort me. I’m trusting that the Lord is working on her heart as well and pray she will some day be one of the branches abiding in Him that is pruned.
*Exegete – I had to use this word because I want to give my husband a hard time every time he says it. Seriously. Does anyone use this word in a normal conversation?