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Pruning & Other Boundary Terms

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

My great aunt had a green thumb. Her house was filled with an array of plants. Plants like Venus Fly Trap, Chicken and Hen, Aloe Vera, Philodendron, and Mother-In-Law Tongue filled this mini greenhouse and made her home feel peaceful and smell fresh.

My first attempt at growing plants was dreadful as I over watered some while under watering others. When I shared these awful deaths with my great aunt, she just laughed and gave me a piece of one her Philodendrons. I was instructed to put it a glass of water and when the roots started to sprout, put it in soil.

Well, to my surprise, all went well. I was so very proud of myself. But my plant wasn’t as big and full as hers. It was long, in fact, it was very long. It was so long that I was wrapping it around the planter in an attempt to keep it off the floor. Of course, I went back for further instructions.

My aunt, in her matter-of-fact way, never looked up from what she was doing and just said, “you need to pinch off of it at the joint…” “Pinch off of it”, I said? “Yes” she replied, “They will never grow full unless you periodically pinch off of it right at the joint.” I wondered how breaking off leaves would help my situation. Never-the-less, who was I to second guess her expertise, especially when my history of killing plants proved I was not the best judge?

So, I broke some of the length off right at the joint and what felt like only a few weeks later, new leaves began to sprout. It was amazing. Today I understand the importance of what my aunt taught me. Not only did her lesson teach me about cycles and growth in nature (when to prune and when not to) but her lessons taught me something about acceptance regarding the cycles of relationships in our lives.

The lesson was first taught by Jesus when he said, “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 so that it will be even more fruitful.” (St. John 15 NIV)

Pruning involves selective removal. It’s a process of removing what’s unwanted to improve structure and healthy growth. Sometimes its used to get rid of dead, diseased stuff to keep it from spreading and other times branches will have to be removed to expose others to more sunlight and air. All to help encourage production. What better instructions for life?

There are times that our circles of influences could benefit from this process. Your circle may include people from your family, friends, associates, co-workers, mentors, teachers, and church members. These individuals have influenced us in areas and ways that groomed us (for better or worst) into the people we are today. However, we fail them and ourselves if we allow obligation, unresolved abandonment, codependency or fear (in any form) to scare us from periodic pruning.

Our circles of influence require periodic selective pruning if we are to improve and allow for healthy growth. Some relationships may have become toxic and need to be alleviated before they spread throughout the group. And yet others may be blocking us in areas that are stunting our production. It’s not a mean thing. It’s a necessary thing. It’s as simple as restructuring healthy boundaries with some people in our lives and creating them with others.

When I broke the joint of that plant, I knew it was for the greater good. It had provided me with as much pleasure as it could give. However, I wanted more and in its present state it was incapable of providing it.

Everyone plays an important role in our growth. But, if we feel like we may be stagnant or stunted in some areas, it may be prudent for us to prune our circles so we might increase productivity.

Be sure and contact a licensed and/or certified clinician to help you navigate decisions like these. Never, start pruning without considering where you are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You wouldn’t want to cut the wrong area or during the wrong season

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