Cactus and sagebrush covered most of our property in Northern Colorado. So when my husband got a part time job at a garden center I was anxious for him to bring home information about what else we could grow.

Instead, the first thing he brought home was a dozen dead roses. At least, they looked dead to me.  The garden center was going to toss them out but his boss thought they could be saved if someone wanted to try. I had no idea how to grow healthy roses let alone roses at death’s door. My husband said not to worry because his boss told him the secret to beautiful roses was to never feed the dead. I was underwhelmed. I wanted to know how much water, how much light and how to prepare the soil, not learn a gardener’s platitude. Depending on my garden books for information, I planted the roses in front of the house.

After a few weeks, compared to my garden, the cactus and sagebrush looked lush. I knew my books had failed me so I decided to give his platitude a try. I pruned gently at first but then staying true to the secret I hacked off every dead cane and dried up leaf. All that remained were a few short, barely green stems with some ugly thorns on them. My husband was shocked by the carnage when he came home and I felt awful. He took over watering what was left as though protecting them from me. Then one morning he called me outside. Every single one of the plants had stretched out at least an inch or two of green stems with brand new leaflets. In just a matter of weeks they were healthy and blooming.

It was years later that I realized the ultimate truth of that platitude. After being widowed and then suffering the death of another marriage through divorce, I felt as though there wasn’t very much life left in me. The pain was like a shadow that silently followed me around. It grew larger after each new loss or failure in my life as I fed it with regrets, anger, bitterness and fear. At times it loomed so large that it seemed as though it would consume me. Finally, there was only one direction in which I could still see a glimmer of light. I reached out to God and He began to replace the dead hopes and dreams that clung to my life like the dry leaves of the roses. I felt new hope growing in me and the bitterness and anger beginning to fade. If you have suffered loss, don’t risk feeding the dead. He is gentle, He is kind and He wants us to grow and flourish. He will change your life into something beautiful and healthy if you let Him do the pruning.

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