Child, if I teach you to be nice, I’ve failed you.

Nice is agreeable, pleasant, satisfactory, but not terribly satisfying.

What I want you to know, is that our world doesn’t need more nice people. Our world needs more soul-deep good, kind, joyful people. People who are so full of good that when you spend time with them, you walk away refreshed, nourished and restored.

Instead of nice, choose love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness and self-control. It won’t all come at once, and I’ve discovered by hourly and daily failure that it’s a life-long journey but oh, do we need more of those things. As you live and breathe and are filled with the fruit of the Spirit, Dear Girl, you will be the person who changes lives and moments and communities and cultures simply by being who you are. This type of fruit? It can be revolutionary. These are the things that bring tiny but mighty pieces of heaven to earth.

However, any tree that bears fruit will be pruned to bear more fruit. You watched me just a few weeks ago doing some brutal pruning, preparing our own gardens for winter. Some well-placed hacks and plants suddenly look naked, shorn of their glory. It’s so necessary though – this slicing of a living thing down to its core. When I see that centre ring, this very marrow of the plant exposed to the elements, it feels so brutal. That same plant though, having been cut through, seems to thrive because of it – bearing ever more fruit.

Be a fruit-bearing tree, Darling. When life slices and tears, you have a choice. You can cover up the wound with a veneer of nice, shrink back and choose not to heal. As if a silk flower glued on a cut branch could fool us into spring. It’s just not the way healthy things work. Instead, choose to submit to the Vinedresser. The Master Gardener, knowing that even the most painful of cuts can have purpose. In those seasons of pruning, choose to heal well, grow beyond and bear fruit, though it is so tempting to shrink back and hide.

Our world is overfull with nice – nice homes, nice cars, nice hair, nice jewelry. I pray that as you grow you’ll offer so much more than nice – instead offer good, good fruit.