For Mental Health You may need a Wire Brush

For Mental Health You May Need a Wire Brush

Something new had to happen, and it could, but it would take a wire brush to shift the bark. So we submit to the master gardener.

As I came to winter prune this old rose, I said a prayer.

‘Creator God, guide me as I prune. As I cut and snip, wire brush and bend, cause new growth to fill the world with your beauty and purpose.’

Ok, it may not have been so poetically put together like that, but it was the intent of my heart.

After cutting and snipping much of last season’s growth away, I reached for my bright yellow handled wire brush. Normally used for brushing the rust off steel, this was now to be used on a plant, a living thing, a rose, in fact—the queen of the garden.

I always slightly cringe when I come to pruning season. It seems such a harsh thing to do.

To cut away what has taken time and energy to put together. I always warn my gardening clients that this may seem harsh, but something has to go if they want the fruit or the flowers.

The wire brush seems the harshest to me. It’s like a full-on assault of scratching and abuse on a protective layer of the soul.

As a soft-hearted kind of person, I wince at the thought. I never like to be that harsh with any living thing.

But there is bark and lichen and moss. A callusing has built up over the seasons that shrouds the potential living underneath.

There, under self-protective layers, is a place of cellular transformation. I can’t see it with the naked eye, but I know it’s there, and all it needs to stimulate it into growth is some irritation and a little light to touch its cells.

Then ‘boom,’ multiplication begins to happen.

Cells form other cells as an explosion of beautiful growth takes place. Then, a few months later, a bud is pushing out in the spring and telling the world that it is here to display divine beauty and make a difference.

By the way, whenever I see this explosion of growth, I do a little dance.

I also, quite often, do a little dance in conversations I have with people like you.

Below is a picture of a new bud formed in 2016 after wire brushing in the winter. Then there is a video of that same rose bush five years later.

Rose new growth
Date 27 September 2016

What’s covering you?

I think we all build up protective layers over our souls—little ways to keep the world out from knowing our most authentic selves. Ways in which we manage life that might have worked for a while, but in the end need to be removed so as something new can come to life.

Before we had layers (Genesis 3), there was complete intimacy (in-to-me-see).

There were no secrets, hidden compartments, fears, or a holding back of the truest of who we are. There were no manipulations or demands to get what we need.

But now we have calluses that protect that small inner child still waiting for a hug, some love, and reassurance. With every hurt, we build a few more cells to protect ourselves. We build out a plan and some behaviors to get our needs met our way.

‘I will never be hurt like that again’ becomes a mantra of the soul. Over years and years of saying this to ourselves, the layers build upon themselves.

Moss and lichen, unwanted parasites, grow in the crevices and cracks.

We have beauty and purpose, but so hidden away that it’s lost to ourselves and especially to others who need our beauty and purpose to complement their own.

So when someone says to us that there is beauty or purpose in us, we laugh, like Sarah, at the suggestion. But actually, something sticks. We know at a heart level that they might be right. We don’t like it, but we long for it.

I want the tidy and true;
I crave the wild and unknown.
Dan Allender

Could looking under the surface find something of life transformation in you?

Can I take a wire brush to your bark?

The Vinedresser

Jesus once described God the Father/ Mother as being like a vinedresser. Someone who cares for the health of the vine. In the passage from John 15:2, he uses ‘prune’ to describe the vinedresser’s actions upon the vine.

The original listeners would have heard the word ‘prune’ as the word greek word kathaírō, which means to make clean by purging (removing undesirable elements).

It’s a clean-up process. It’s what I do to those roses. Taking away what is unwanted, unneeded, and ultimately unhelpful to the creative beauty and purpose stored up.

It can feel harsh and brutal at the time. But given some time, a newness is welcomed into the world.

Men and women are different.

There is a beauty

Tell a woman she is beautiful and most likely, she will wonder what you want. Tell them there is a beauty within her, and she will most likely dismiss it and you.

But speak to the desires of her heart, discover a dormant bud at the cellular level, and speak affirmations into it, and perhaps something might start to grow.

I believe, for the most part, many women confuse beauty with external performances. Shape, skin, hair, clothes, weight, and the world panders to this comparisonitis.

Real beauty has an attractiveness that embodies divine beauty and the ‘wow’ of what God is like.  It’s in every woman.

A woman is feminine when she relates in a way that invites others to see something about God that is irresistibly attractive, something about the relational nature of God that she was created to enjoy and reveal. Larry Crabb.  Fully Alive

A beautiful woman welcomes us in to see what God is like. ‘Come into my home, messy as it is, and I will reveal something of God.’

Read more here When Women with Depression Discover their Beauty.

It’s different for men.

There is a purpose

Tell a man he has a purpose, and something might light up. But, under years of failures and false starts, an ‘impotence of the soul’ might have callused over the cells.

But it will still be there—a desire to move into his world and to make a difference. Yes, women want to make a difference too, but it comes from a different core. It comes from a place of beauty. For men, it’s different, and most women don’t get it. It’s as foreign to them as the idea of expressing beauty is to a man.

The chief fear of a man is that he is weightless. That what he does has no impact.

I sit here and write these words and wonder will they have any impact. Will they leave a mark, change someone’s world, wire-brush someone, as such, so that new growth springs forth.

Where will this bursting bud of creativity go off to? What heart will it touch? Email me if it’s you 🙂.

As a male pruning a rose, I want to see new growth influencing the space it takes up. There’s progress and life. That the beauty and perfumes of the rose will make a difference.

Read more here Why Male Depression feels like being Impotent and Weightless and Understanding Men: How to Listen so You can Connect.

Rose bushes don’t run from the wire brush.

I’ve never seen a rose bush take up roots and run. Can you imagine that?

I am walking towards it with secateurs and wire brush in hand, and the rose bush suddenly jumps up out of the soil and runs from me.

Seriously though, roses are quite submissive to the care of the gardener.

It’s the intentionality of the vinedresser to come every day to care for the rose that makes the difference. Sometimes with a secateur, sometimes a wire brush, but other times it’s with water, fertilizer, and compost.

At other times, it’s to stand back and gaze with wonder at the beauty and purpose unfolding in front of their eyes. They take time to smell the roses and speak words of love and affirmation. Thanking it for its perseverance and tenacity of mission.

Real roses don’t run. Instead, they submit to the one who knows them better than they know themselves.

Wire brushing happens, but it’s for the briefest of moments.

For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12 New Living Translation

Or perhaps the Pearman Living Translation

For the Vinedresser wire brushes and prunes, those he loves
just as a loving parent cares for the child they dance over

What needs a gentle wire brushing in you?

I get many emails from people all over the world. Some are in very desperate situations.

‘What can I do?’ I often ponder. I mull over advice I could give, suggestions to make that might change things.

Sure there can be truly helpful directions forward, but not after carefully and sensitively noticing the heart of the rose bush in front of me.

If Christ, the master gardener, was standing alongside me, what would he point out to me? What would he say?

  • ‘That way of thinking and behaving has served them sort of ok for that period of life, but now it has to go so something new can come to life.’
  • ‘See how they have been covered in self-protective layers? How the moss, lichen, and mould have covered over them? That has to go too because there is some beautiful underneath’.
  • ‘I’m always doing new work in the people I love. More of my beauty and purpose to come out of them’.

I think God the gardener is very patient with us. Their care may feel like a wire brush, but probably it’s more like a gentle nudge with open-hearted questions that we didn’t want to hear.

It’s an invitation to let them into where they already know the mess.

It’s a wisdom that is

  • pure
  • full of quiet gentleness.
  • peace-loving
  • courteous
  • open to discussion
  • willing to yield to others;
  • full of mercy
  • full of good deeds.
  • wholehearted
  • straightforward
  • sincere. James 3:17

So I’m not going to run from this vinedresser.

Quotes to consider

  • Shame causes us to see our identity as flawed rather than seeing ourselves as having flaws. Dan Allender
  • All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another. Anatole France
  • Metanoeite, or change of consciousness, can only come with time. Patience is the very shape of love. Without it, religion is merely about enforcing laws and requirements. Richard Rohr Patience
  • The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—disruption and chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is not working anymore. Richard Rohr When Things Fall Apart

Questions to answer

  1. Where have you felt the wisdom of a gentle wire brush on your life? Old ways being removed so something new can emerge.
  2. What happens in you when you hear the words ‘beauty’ and ‘purpose’?
  3. The quote ‘I want the tidy and true; I crave the wild and unknown. Dan Allender’ has an invite to adventure into the unknown. How comfortable are you stepping into the unknown?

Further Reading

Three Mental Health Assurances For When The Wire Brush Scratches

Mental Health Grows Bud by Bud, Brick by Brick

God is Pruning Me for Love, Joy, and Peace

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