Yesterday I talked about deadheading, cutting off the old things that were once part of our lives but that need to be removed in order to foster new growth. Today I’m talking about suckers.
Now, mature gardeners, please don’t laugh at me, and if I make errors feel free to gently correct me.
About halfway through the growing season last year my four tomato plants were looking spectacular. Bushy, green, the picture of life. But they weren’t really doing a good job at growing tomatoes on them. I was getting a few small ones, but the yield was surprisingly sparse. Well, ok, not surprising…rocky relationship with plants and all that.
After recalling a fragment of conversation heard in passing over ten years ago I did some searching on the internet, and it turns out that tomatoes have these little stems called ‘suckers’ that have to be pinched off if you want really good fruit. OK, opinions on that vary, but I’m going with the majority on this one. As I understand it, left alone these suckers use energy that should go into producing good fruit. Like the deadheads, they also need to be pinched off so that the plant can produce better by diverting more energy into growing the fruit instead of just more leaves and stems. So I trimmed those babies ruthlessly. Suddenly my garden didn’t look so pretty, it didn’t look all lush and green anymore. But guess what? The tomatoes started doing what they were supposed to do. It was, however, too little too late. I never really got a good crop of fruit off of those plants.
We all have suckers in our lives. Things that look great from the outside but we have to question whether or not they are sapping energy that should go into our main purpose, producing fruit. It is easy for me to feel virtuous about my relatively low level of TV watching, but start prodding at my internet habits and, hmmm, is that a sucker growing there? What could I accomplish if I cut off message boards, stopped blogging or reading blogs, removed the phrase “I’ll just Google it” from my vocabulary? It’s easy to get sucked down rabbit trails on the internet, not even realizing how time has passed. And they could be worthwhile in and of themselves! Blogs that make me think, links that make me aware, conversations that help me grow in insight. But is it bearing fruit, or is it keeping me from bearing fruit? Something to think about. I know many people have gone on an internet fast for a period of time; they are trying to trim the suckers in their lives.
What about reading? It’s a great pastime, and I love to read. But what does it keep me from accomplishing?
Kids’ activities, great for the kids, but how many times do parents say “Sorry, I don’t have time to help in the church because we are busy with…” Is that a sucker?
It’s time to start turning over the leaves of my life, looking for the suckers, trimming out the things that are diverting my attention from where it belongs. I want to be focused wholeheartedly on God; I want to be bearing fruit for the kingdom. I don’t want to let that potential be sucked out of me.