Let go of your false self to uncover the person God created.

Your Invitation to Embrace a New, True Life

Soon, I will take up over-sized loppers with wooden handles that should have been oiled last fall, and, once late winter begins to move toward almost-spring, I will snip branches from our feral and fly-away forsythia bush. Bare branches in a sturdy vase will eventually give way to bright yellow blossoms–except for when they don’t . . .

My haphazard, slipshod approach to pruning, my uninformed and ineffective bush management yields uneven and unpredictable results. God is not THAT gardener. When He lops off a spiritual branch in the life of a believer, you can be certain He is after fruit, and His methods are sure. He knows what is superfluous. He knows what dead wood is weighing me down and also, when an apparently “good” thing must go.

When Michelle DeRusha and her family visited the Portland Japanese Garden in the Pacific Northwest, they observed the masterful application of open center pruning, a process that yields, over time, a tree with uniquely healthy and beautiful form. For DeRusha, the image of branch-by-branch relinquishment became a metaphor for the stripping away that happens on the way to one’s “true, essential self,” (19) and the outcome of her pondering is the gift of her latest book:  True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created

Pruning for Deep Transformation

Michelle discovered that deep transformation requires three things:  (1) observation; (2) reflection; and (3) time. These are all in short supply in most peoples’ lives, and our addiction to busy-ness just reinforces all our connections to a false identity. Silence and stillness provide the necessary brain sabbath to allow the doers and the driven to remember that we are more than just the sum total of our accomplishments.

Pruning for Clarity

A journey toward the true self may uncover some things we’d rather not deal with. On a writer’s retreat in Tuscany, Michelle came face to face with some startling truths:

“I didn’t have rest in my life because I didn’t have rest in God. I didn’t have clarity in my vocation, in my calling as a writer, because I didn’t know who I was in God. I didn’t know who I was, period, because I didn’t know who I was in God. And I didn’t know who I was in God because I didn’t know God himself.” (83)

Pruning in the Wilderness

When God met Moses on the far side of the wilderness, it was largely because Moses had stopped and taken the time to look at the burning bush.  From that moment forward, the character-shaping, excruciating process began. God was after a leader sufficient for the task of shepherding an unwieldy rabble out of slavery and into an understanding of their role as the people of God. Standing barefoot beside Moses, I can imagine this must have felt like a wounding and a tearing away of all Moses knew about himself.

Jesus reminded his disciples, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Matthew 16:25) This transaction, Michelle reminds us, is just plain hard. As all the fallacies we believe about ourselves are pruned away, we may also feel wounded and wilderness bound.  Even so, the “stay and wait” (131) of wilderness living is the hopeful path to hearing God’s voice through His Word and realizing that the message is for you!

I share a number on the Enneagram with Michelle DeRusha, so her references to her “three-ness” resonated (and meddled) with me.  We are the Achiever/Performers:   followers of Christ who need continual reminders that there is no merit badge for busy-ness. Even standing still, we are planning the next task or talking to ourselves about how great it is that we are standing still so skillfully . . . (I know– it’s really sad!)

God has a better plan:

“Stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!”  (I Samuel 12:16)

Standing still in heart, mind, and body; paying attention to what God is up to in creation, in my own faltering steps of faith, in the lives of my family and friends:  this is a good beginning for calming the restlessness and for coming home to my true self.

What strategies help you to stay in touch with the True You?

Many thanks to Baker Books for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Cheering you on toward your new, true life,

michele signature[1]

I’ve had the fun of reviewing two of Michelle’s previous books. Most recently,
Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk was released in 2017 just in time for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. I enjoyed reading and writing about the Luther marriage, for the righteousness which is “of God, by faith” is available in Christ for all who commit their lives (and their marriages) to Him — by grace alone.

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees  linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created or Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Published by

Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

51 thoughts on “Your Invitation to Embrace a New, True Life”

  1. Michele, we had a snowfall last month that unloaded a heavy weight of white in a relatively short time. It was too much for many trees and shrubs around here to withstand, and limbs and branches were down all over the place, including in my backyard, where two flowering dogwoods and a large burning bush were damaged. It was sad, in a way, but I kept reminding myself that weather events like this are like God’s natural pruning shears. Growth will come from it, even though it will probably take a lot longer than I’d like! If Moses’ 40 years in the backside of the wilderness are any indication, that’s how it is with us, too. But I’m comforted when I remember that God’s pruning of people is always specific and purposeful, not haphazard or unskilled.


    1. Yes, every year when I take up those old loppers, I’m grateful for God’s skill and grace with His pruning process. Pruning from knowledge is so much better than the haphazard work I do. And if the spiritual stripping process were left up to me, I would be one sorry looking bush!


  2. Whew! This certainly tugs army heart strings and motives for being a great Christian. Pruning hurts at times and so does standing still even when I’m “great” at it. What an awesome reminder that my entire identity is only in Christ!!!


  3. I’ve not taken the Enneagram, but I must be a 3 as well, because these words, “We are the Achiever/Performers: followers of Christ who need continual reminders that there is no merit badge for busy-ness. Even standing still, we are planning the next task or talking to ourselves about how great it is that we are standing still so skillfully . . . (I know– it’s really sad!)” stomped on my toes!

    I’ve been feeling for quite some time that I have pruning to do. I’ve taken some baby steps toward it but have a ways to go. Another book for the TBR pile!


    1. Oh, good! We can share a number. If you are curious about your number and have time/interest in podcasts, I recommend Suzanne Stabile’s podcast called The Ennegram Journey and one she did a while back with Ian Cron called The Road Back to You. Lots of good info, and so much better than taking the test.


  4. I am an amateur pruner, but I do enjoy the results. I know to cut off the dead stuff, but I read somewhere that those who are masters at it know when to cut back even what looks like good branches for the optimal results. That image has always stuck with me in thinking of God’s pruning of us. Sometimes He lops off even the good to facilitate the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this review! I’d heard of Michelle De Rusha, but had no idea what kind of books she wrote. This list is so throught-provoking: 1) observation; (2) reflection; and (3) time. I need to work more of these into my life.


    1. So much pruning to be done – not fun, but necessary and important.
      Thank you, Michele, for sharing your thoughts and your heart.
      And thank you for sharing at this week’s Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog Hop!


  6. I’m in a season of clarification and tweaking who I am. The hard work I did a year ago to become secure in my identity as God’ s child has been beaten down since 2019 began. All this to say that I have True You just waiting for me to listen to since I got it through Audible. I can’t wait.


    1. Oh, Mary, that’s such a challenge for you. I’m thankful for the knowledge that God is under the load with you, and looking forward to hearing about the process of reclaiming who God says you are.
      Precious daughter.
      Woman of God.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe my age is why the book resonated for me–also 56. Things do get “pruned” in these days past 50, and it’s important for us to process things as we go, a huge challenge in the busy-ness of life.


  7. As a bumbling amateur gardener who often just prunes willy -nilly (and thankfully have not killed anything yet!) this metaphor really resonates.


  8. I love this theme of pruning. The idea of God paring us down to our essence is appealing in many ways. I, on the other hand, share your pruning skills. It’s amazing I haven’t killed even our hardy forsythia yet!


  9. I identify with so much of this: my own lack of skill at pruning, the three-ness, and the wonder about God’s perfect pruning. It’s a lifelong process, isn’t it! We would do well to understand and embrace it more!


    1. Well, this does indeed give me hope, Donna! Thank you for sharing your own struggles here. I see you ahead of me there on the trail of faithfulness to God, and it encourages me to know that you are also in process.


  10. Congratulations! Your post was my feature pick at #OverTheMoon this week. Each Hostess displays their own features so be sure to visit me on Sunday evening and to see your feature! I invite you to leave more links to be shared and commented upon. Please don’t forget to add your link numbers or post title so we can be sure to visit!


  11. Whew! I think I need to read this book! I just got back from a weekend conference studying the book of Ephesians and I came to some of the same conclusions as this author about needing to really dig in and understand better my identity in Christ! Thanks for sharing this great and timely resource at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!


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