2017; I was a tree. A tree with root rot. A tree with branches brittle, bare and breaking. A tree attempting to water myself with the single streams that fell from my eyes. I was miserable. And I was falling apart. There had been a branch that was sucking the life and happiness from me. A branch I needed to prune.
I don’t believe in God. I have always struggled and had a hard time believing that there was a mighty man who controlled all. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was once asked“Do you believe in God?”to which he replied “Every description of God that I’ve heard holds God to be all powerful, very typical, and all good. And then I look around and I see a tsunami that killed a quarter million people in Indonesia, an earthquake that killed a quarter million people in Haiti… and I see earthquakes and tornados and disease..childhood leukemia.. and I see all of this and I say ‘I do not see evidence of both of those being true simultaneously.’ If there is a God, the God is either not all powerful or not all good. Can’t be both. If you have good evidence, I’m good for it. But I’m evidence driven more than I’m faith driven.” The first time I heard that was the first time I was ever able to relate my personal thought on something so true and concrete. That quote changed my life and completely solidified my entire belief (or lack there of) of God and the idea of him in a single instant. I tweeted NDT and thanked him for taking my jumbled thoughts and formulating a tangible sentence that was everything I had ever thought. My more than doubtful opinion of God and Christianity as a whole was exactly why I was so thrown off when something from the bible was just simply another quote that flipped my belief of his words on it’s head.
John 15:2 1)I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. 2)He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit,and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.
When this fell into my lap and I first began to process it, I was struggling with a collection of friendships that I felt were doing me more harm than good. I was always sad, I was always crying. I always felt discredited, ignored and constantly isolated. My efforts of trying to grab hold of these friendships to keep them in place were constantly being misjudged and mistaken for insanity, almost “theatrical” drama if you will, and complete overreaction. Which, I can now admit, at times it totally was. For months I gasped for air, drowning in a sea of self pity and I lived this vicious cycle with no end and no way to get off the terrible merry go round that I called my daily life. That is until I came across this verse. This verse was more a message to me about me, than it was to me from God. A way of life or maybe destiny, if you believe in that sort of thing, that shook me by my shoulders and said “Balie! What are you doing?! You are in control of this! You have the power to take this situation and flip it. Stop worrying so much about something that you have no control over, you can easily rid yourself of this pain. You don’t need this! It is only comfortable and familiar. It’s okay to move forward and it’s okay to be happy on your own!” And with that I took this verse and ran with it and didn’t look back for one second.
Again, I was the tree and there was a certain branch in my life that was no longer bearing any fruit. It was doing nothing for my existence and was not helping me grow. It was rotting from the inside out; it was unhealthy and it’s toxicity was spreading throughout the rest of my branches and killing off the entirety of me. I needed to prune that specific branch to heal myself and to cut the spread of it’s destructive poison or it would destroy me beyond return. It took me a very long time to prune this branch for the simple fact that: I loved this branch. We had been through a plethora of experiences together, me and this branch. We matured together from a united small sapling. I supported it as best I could but I can admit that it did get a few beatings from myself; I was not always kind to this branch, while all of that was unintentional and never out of spite. We had slowly become water and oil from what once had been a mixed solution of sorts. I outgrew this branch and our coexistence and I had a very very difficult time coming to terms with that. This branch had deceived me and was trying to detach for themselves and I was trying very hard to keep it intact & attached to me out of love and sentiment. This branch was killing me, hurting me, depriving and draining me of feeling loved by anyone and I knew it. I would beat myself up for keeping this branch connected to my trunk but I truly had manipulated myself into thinking that there was no way I could exist without it. I thought I needed to keep it linked to me but would regularly irreversibly damage myself by doing so. It took me an exceedingly lengthy amount of time to realize what this branch had actually been doing to me and my wellbeing. And it took an even longer amount of time for this branch to explain to me what they knew they were doing to me.
My mentioning of John 15:2 is not me nodding that “God” “saved me” from this painful situation. The words that the bible speaks are as true and have as much meaning as you give to them. I recognized my wrongs, I examined my branches and my entire life which made me realize I needed to eliminate the toxicity and so I did. I pruned my own damn tree. And in doing so, the rest of my branches soon afterward began to just flourish. I healed from the inside out; I was stronger, more deeply rooted and in touch with myself than I had ever been previously. I made space for bigger and better additions to my life, things that furthered me in knowledge and compassion. Brand new extensions began to present themselves to me and next to two mending branches, where there was once was a sad, dark, stump grew a vintage and familiar wing that immediately began to bloom. It brought flowers in the most intricate, breathtaking of colors, ones of which I had never seen before. With it came the juiciest most ripe fruit that was plentiful and enough to satisfy my personal needs. It brought the sun, it brought warmth; something that I had not felt in years. I had been so deprived that I had absolutely no knowledge of just how poor and in need I actually was. Emotionally abused became an emotional uplifting. Being discounted and overlooked shifted and I was unfamiliarly cherished, comforted and was always encouraged. I had never felt this way and it was so brand new to me. But, it felt nice. It felt easy as it continues to. I will always be thankful and reflect on the single moment I let go of my pain in the wind and began to snip away at my broken branch.
I will always cherish the time I spent with my broken branch. I have forgiven it and I will absolutely never overlook or block out the memories and time I spent with it because I developed and matured over many years with it close to me. But, for the sake of myself, my life and happiness I can no longer keep that weight on my trunk. In addition to keeping memories of the good times, I will also remember all the pain I went through during this time of my life. It taught me more about myself than I ever knew before; and it is true, I am stronger than I believed. It almost destroyed me far beyond repair and I could never bring myself to go through that again. I do not want to go through that again. I will never let something so immediate to my life and my heart hurt me that way, not even one more time. I just can’t allow it. It’s something I will surely never recover from completely. And while I will always love that branch, it’s time to let go of it. I have hope that it will soil itself and grow on its own, as strong and as beautiful as I have.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an emotionally/verbally/physically abusive relationship The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a confidential 24/7 365 toll free call center able to take your call with concern and support in over 170+ different languages. Call them at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website to use their live chat service.
Photos by Balie Mara – Canon AE-1 ~ 35mm