Pruning Friends

This week, we posted the first of our Highlights series of interviews. Aaron definitely kicked us off right and is a rock solid dude all around. Watching what Luana’s Coffee Yard grows into will be a treat, for sure. In the midst of a lot of great points about perseverance, creativity, and life in general, one thing he said hit me particularly hard. He said it so casually and simply that I think some people may have missed it. He said it with the pure conviction of experience. He mentioned the importance of “pruning” friendships. It struck me immediately because the idea of having to cut friends out of my life has always been something I’ve struggled with, but the more I’ve thought about it over the course of the last couple weeks, the word choice has really stuck with me. I mean, I’ve heard lots of people refer to cutting people out of your life, and those two phrases mean essentially the same thing, but there are two primary differences that I just can’t get out of my head.

First and foremost, I can sometimes over-idealize loyalty. I tend to think that, no matter what, I have to stay with people simply because I’ve known them for a while. The real question of loyalty, though, is whether or not you really want what’s best for the other person. After all, loyalty shouldn’t just be a matter of obligation. In truth, if the relationship is holding people back from what they are called to do and be, then it’s just a selfish, self serving bit of use. This is like the use of pruning to allow for a healthy growth in the plant, or to keep the weight of an overgrown branch from overburdening the rest of the tree and damaging the whole.

The other big take away for me was that the level of intention is very different. Cutting something out doesn’t require any particular thought. So long as a thing is removed, it’s gone. The end. Pruning, though, is a targeted trimming. You remove specific parts, not just to be rid of them, but to shape the plant as a whole. I’m not good at this. I tend to lose touch with friends, not because I feel that our relationship isn’t good, healthy, or fruitful, but simply because I get busy. Or distracted. Or lazy. In all honesty, it tends to be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.” As a result, there are many friendships that I miss, and there were also many people who stayed in my life without either of us doing anything to benefit each other or ourselves. In order to really improve my life and accomplish the things I want to, I need to start being much more intentional in deciding what needs pruning and what needs to be allowed to keep growing.

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