Well, here we are. I’m going to be honest; it’s incredibly strange to be writing this article today: on April 13, trying to imagine where we’ll be a month from now, on May 13 — when you’re reading this.
Because right now, I’m on day 33 of quarantine in the COVID19 epicenter, New York City.
Yep, I’ve been holed up in my 500 square foot studio apartment in the heart of Manhattan, alone, for over a month. And things are…getting desperate.
NYC is unrecognizable. Truly. A city with nearly 9 million people has become a literal ghost town. Everyone is holed up in their apartment, scared, lonely, frustrated, and on the brink of developing a drinking problem.
Everything is boarded up and closed. The streets are deserted, with absolutely no traffic. And the noise and hustle-bustle notorious to “The City That Never Sleeps” has become a deafening silence. Only to be filled with the never-ceasing cry of ambulances, and the wind, whipping through the maze of streets.
Safe to say, the pulse of NYC, that makes it the greatest city on earth, has flatlined.
What Will Be
So sitting here, in the same sweatpants I’ve worn for the past three days now, it’s difficult to imagine what life will be like, one month from now.
Will we still be in lockdown? Will I still have a job? Will my loved ones be safe and healthy? Will I be safe and healthy? Will my relationships have survived? Will our country be in severe depression? Will I be using coffee filters for toilet paper?
There are so many unknowns—so many sources of uncertainty. And projecting into the future, one month from now, can either be a giant beacon of hope, or a crippling and suffocating trigger for anxiety.
Preparing for this article, as I always do, I opened to today’s Gospel reading from John 15:1-8—the vine and the branches. A verse we can all probably recite the gist of if put on the spot. Or at the very least, sing a chorus from a familiar song from the red or green hardcover songbook in the pews growing up [There’s nothing like early 90’s church music, am I right?].
There was a verse that stood out to me this morning that I’ve never noticed before. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower…and everyone that does [bear fruit] he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
He prunes so that it bears more fruit.
I’m not a gardener, but my mother has quite the green thumb. And I’m going to be honest; I’ve always been quite perplexed by the whole concept of pruning. I remember growing up; I’d be so sad and confused when my mother would cut off these robust, beautiful, blooming roses from the rose bushes in the name of pruning.
How could that possibly be beneficial? How sad to see such a magnificent flower bite the dust in such a seemingly heartless way?
My mother would always reassure me that by cutting it back, it would grow again healthier, fuller, and stronger. And she was always right.
Beyond the Four Walls
Sitting here today, staring at these same four walls, that seems to get tighter and tighter every day; I’m realizing that right now, we as believers, and we as a country, and we as a global community — are undergoing the pruning process.
We’ve been isolated from loved ones. Cut off from attending worship services. Thrown adversity — whether it’s health-related, financially related, a challenging living situation, having to homeschool kids, facing loneliness — we have all been “cut back,” so to speak.
And it’s painful.
We are all grieving. Grieving the life we once knew and lamenting the current state of things. Grieving plans, vacations, weddings, graduations, adventures we had planned.
Pruning is hard.
But with it comes incredible hope because of what God reminded us so blatantly evident in today’s Gospel. “he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”
Bears More Fruit
I don’t know about you, but that prospect excites me.
It fills me with so much hope and heartening anticipation.
God is at work right now. Right this very moment. In our adversity. In our pain, and our uncertainty and fear.
He is working in us, laying the foundation for an abundant harvest one month, one year, one decade — from today.
So yeah, I could think about where we will be in one month from now through the lens of earthy pessimism. OR, I could think about where we’ll be one month from now through the eyes of God and the work He is doing in each one of us as we speak.
God’s timing is never accidental. His ways and His tactics are always on purpose. And though we may not always understand at the moment, He will always use everything for good.
I’ve been here before. I was incapable, at the moment, to understand why I had to endure a severe case of anorexia that nearly took my life — but only now, 13 years later, can I see the tremendous fruit that came from that incredibly painful pruning process.
For by enduring that season of overwhelming suffering, I gained an unshakeable faith and dependence on God. And have, by His grace, been able to use my story to help others going through similar adversity through my blog, book, and speaking engagements.
That Which He Prunes Will Bear More Fruit
It is a promise, straight from Jesus’ mouth.
It gives me incredible hope to think of the collective fruit that will come from all of our current sufferings. Just imagine, together, it could be enough to change the world.
About the author:
Caralyn is the writer and speaker behind the blog, BeautyBeyondBones. It has recently been named one of the Top Three Eating Disorder Recovery Sites on the WorldwideWeb. She’s a twenty-something actress and writer in New York City. Having battled a severe case of anorexia and Ulcerative Colitis, she now uses her story of total restoration to positively impact others, and offer Christ’s hope and encouragement for those with eating disorders, and other forms of adversity. Her book, Bloom is now available!