By The Rev. Tony Marciano
When I was a kid, my father planted a big leaf maple tree in the back yard. The roots went down and the tree went up.
The tree kept growing and growing. We used a tree pruner because we were concerned it would grow too tall. As we grew up, we stopped pruning it. I never thought about pruning trees again.
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When we moved to Charlotte, I was introduced to the Crepe Myrtle. We had one in the backyard and three in the front. I didn’t consider trimming it. It seemed to have lovely branches.
We were in our home 20 years when I learned I needed to trim it. By then, it was significantly overgrown. I stood on the ladder with a chainsaw to cut limbs of this tree to rein it in. There were a few times the branches hit me on the way down. It was scary since I don’t do heights. I got the job done and was proud.
All I had left were stumps. I didn’t think I killed the tree since I trimmed it in February. The stumps remained in March. They were still there in April. Suddenly, I started to see sprouts and the tree took over the lawns. It was as if I never trimmed them.
Next February, I am back standing on the ladder with the chainsaw trimming more limbs and cutting more branches. Again, all I had were stumps for several months. Then the branches returned.
I always wait until February. This winter was mild. I started to see sprouts coming from the tree. Then we had a cold snap and I took out the ladder. But this year, I left the chainsaw in the shed. Instead, I took the pruning shears and cut back all the branches. It was still a lot of work. When I was done, it didn’t quite look as trimmed as in previous years. I reasoned that I would come out in a week with the chainsaw and trim it so it looked like everyone else’s Crepe Myrtle trees that had been trimmed. Nice and neat. Mine were nubby and scruffy.
Next week came and I stepped outside and looked at the trees. I had previously trimmed back all the branches. I was all set for another spring. Or was I? Trimming it back some more would involve quite a bit more work. Was I trying to be a perfectionist?
There is a difference between perfection and excellence. I tend to be a perfectionist. Things are done perfectly or not done at all. As perfectionists, we think we get our best inspiration at the 11th hour. We convince ourselves that is when we are most creative. Actually, we put off the project until the last minute and give it our best shot. We promise ourselves the next time we will start sooner so we can give it our best devotion. The cousin to perfection is procrastination. If we can’t do it perfectly, we will put it off until we can do it perfectly. Then it comes due and we hurriedly give it our best shot.
I think God’s plan is not perfection. Rather, it is excellence. God calls us to give it our very best. We don’t have to do it perfectly, just give it our best and leave the results to Him.
I have excellent trimmed Crepe Myrtle trees on my property. I don’t have perfectly trimmed trees. I prefer them that way. It shows I am human.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Visit www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.
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