Today I wanted to share a lesson I learned on the importance of pruning our lives. I call it the parable of the peach tree. Before we moved from California, I had a large orchard. I loved this orchard and spent many hours tending to it and watching it grow. When I first starting caring for fruit trees, I wanted to keep every fruit and branch that began to grow on the tree. I disregarded advice from a master gardener and thought that I knew better. So I left all the fruit and branches on half of the tree, building supports to help carry the weight. This lack of pruning and thinning led to a catastrophic ending with broken branches, poor fruit, and a wasted summer. From this experience I learned the importance of not only pruning fruit trees, but also pruning our lives. I want to share these gems with you. And so, here is my parable of the peach tree.
The Parable of the Peach Tree
Once upon a time, in a California orchard, there lived a peach tree. This tree was a happy tree and when taken care of, it produced the most delicious and juicy peaches.
Early in the spring, a young gardener came to tend to the peach tree.
Organic sprays were used to prevent blight on the budding leaves. Careful, daily watering and occasional fertilizing also took place.
Pretty soon, the tree was covered in blossoms. Bees came and pollinated the beautiful peach blossoms. After a while of patiently waiting, baby peaches began to grow.
One day, a master gardener came to visit the orchard.
When he saw the peach tree laden with fruit, he encouraged the young gardener to thin the fruit and prune back some of the branches.
Anxious for a large harvest, the young gardener disregarded the master gardener’s advice.
The young gardener loved this peach tree and all of the fruit on it. Surely the master gardener was wrong. So she did an experiment and only thinned half of the tree, leaving the back half laden with peaches. The young gardener then awaited what was certain to be the best harvest ever!
As the peaches grew, the branches became so heavy that supports were needed.
Instead of thinning out some peaches at this point, the young gardener stubbornly tried everything else she could think of to save her peach tree. Great care was taken to keep these overrun branches held up.
One morning, the young gardener came out to the orchard only to find a tragedy.
In spite of her efforts, the largest support branches in the back of the tree had snapped during the night. The peaches on those broken branches were too young to harvest and the crop was lost. The remaining overladen peaches that still clung to the back of the tree were small and disfigured. At harvest time, they were bland and had little sweetness to them. The young gardener felt sorrow for not having listened to the master gardener.
Thankfully, a tender mercy awaited on the front of the tree.
When the young gardener inspected the front of the tree, she stared in amazement at what she saw. The side of the tree that had been properly thinned and pruned produced large, juicy peaches, worthy of a feast! While there were fewer peaches there, the taste of each peach was like pure sugar dripping down her face.
Humbled, the young gardener returned to the master gardener, this time ready to learn.
She attended pruning workshops, learned to thin peaches properly, and the next year had the best and sweetest harvest ever.
Tips for Pruning Our Lives
Obviously, the parable of the peach tree is about me and my California orchard. That said, as with most parables, it has a deeper meaning. If we try to hold on to too much, we will eventually break. Even if we do produce more fruit, it will be small and flavorless. Here are some tips that have helped me to prune and thin out my own life.
The first step in pruning our lives is to choose our activities wisely
Our time is one of most precious commodities. When I was younger, I wanted to do everything. I was involved in so many extra curricular activities, that by my senior year in high school I almost snapped. After talking to my bishop at my church, I was encouraged to let some things go. But how could I possibly choose? I was in drama, choir, band, and so many other things. After lamenting a bit and soul searching, I dropped several of my AP classes and stepped away from show choir and drama, focusing on those things that were most important. Dropping these classes allowed me to spend more time singing and dancing in a service group I was a part of. I had more balance in my life and felt happier.
Pruning back our schedules can be difficult at times, especially with children. When I took a master gardener’s class on tree pruning, the hardest part I encountered was how to choose which branches to cut off. The instructor encouraged us to cut off half of the tree. It was painful. By doing so, however, the fruit tree would become more manageable and less likely to break. I have prayed often for guidance when pruning my schedule, and have never regretted it. Having a more open schedule has allowed me to serve others, work on my hobbies, and be present for my children.
The next step in pruning our lives is to keep only those things that spark joy
In order to get large, juicy peaches, you need to thin them out and let go of many of them. A good rule of thumb is to have peaches spaced no closer than a hand’s width apart. This same principle applies to our homes. We need to allow space and margin in our lives so that we can grow to our full potential. I went through a life changing organizational program called the STEP program a few years back. Through it, I learned to let go of things in my life that were bogging me down. I threw away over 18 bags of trash and donated a trailer full of nice, usable items to refugees. When we minimize what we have, we spend less time on cleaning and organization, and more time on living.
I also read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and took it to heart. This minimalist approach liberated me. Imagine living in a home where you are surrounded by only those things that spark joy in your life. Yes, we still have joyful chaos in our home at times, but it feels manageable and cleans up quickly.
When pruning our lives, know that even after tragedies occur, we can start again
In spite of the tragedy that took place with my peach tree, I was given the chance to start again. I have found that life holds on in all aspects of our lives. We learn from our mistakes and we grow.
With my peach tree, after careful pruning and thinning the following summer, we had a bountiful harvest. We canned peaches, froze peaches, ate them fresh on our cereal and oatmeal, and made a plentitude of delicious peach crisp (Here’s the recipe!!! It’s SO good!). Remember, it is never too late for us to make the most of our lives. When we feel broken, the master gardener can help us to heal, bloom again, and reach our full potential.
Focus On What Is Most Important and Prune Often For Best Results
Fruit trees need to be pruned on an annual basis or they will grow out of control. The same feels true with our lives. I took the course, The Best Year Ever, by Michael Hyatt, this past year. It allowed me to pause and reflect upon where I am at in my life so far. To me, the best year ever means finding my divine mission and doing all I can to fulfill it.
Just like the master gardener knew how to best care for the fruit trees, I know that my Heavenly Father knows what is best for me. Sometimes we need to have faith in the unknown and trust in His divine plan for each of us. This video sums up perfectly how I feel about the importance of pruning our lives.
I hope you can find joy and balance as you work on pruning your own life.
Until next time!
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