There’s something about gardening that soothes me.
Maybe it’s the smell of the earth, or the possibility that lies within the seeds.
Perhaps it’s the sun on my back or the breeze in my face.
Maybe it’s some combination of it all.
Whatever it is, gardening is a ‘zen’ activity for me.
But there’s one part of gardening that I have a love/hate relationship with.
Here’s what I love about it: the yanking and the pulling can be extremely therapeutic. There’s nothing like grabbing a weed’s stalk low, near the soil and yanking it out by its root. I love the satisfaction of standing back, feeling like a botanical hero having saved the desirable plants from the encroaching, unwanted ones.
But the monitoring? Oi!
I hate the monitoring. I have an unrealistic expectation that if I’ve weeded an area once, then the weeds in that space should stay gone. They should get the message ‘don’t grow here’ and respect my wishes.
Unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to make them take the hint. No matter how many times I set about the business of cleaning them out, weeds still grow.
Just this past week my sweet son helped with (read ‘did most of’) the weeding all around our home. He was out there for what seemed an eternity. I was blown away when I went into the garage to find not one, not two but eight bags of weeds!
I wrestled with telling you that because that’s a lot of weeds. With that kind of haul, one could easily imagine our home was completely overgrown and swallowed up by the gangly looking invaders. But in our defense, those weeds had grown over a lot of real estate.
And he did trim the bushes and small trees, using the bags to gather their clippings too. (Ok, I'm better now.)
He truly did a stellar job. And while I was grateful for the neatened appearance of our flower and rock beds, when I stepped back and saw the bags piled high, threatening to overtake one side of the garage, I couldn’t help but see a metaphor for my life.
Over the years I’d like to think I’ve done the good, hard work of pulling up weeds (usually by their roots) in an effort to allow the space needed for what’s healthy to multiply and grow.
I’ve had to come to terms with many things over the years that, like weeds among flowers, were choking out the good God had intended for me.
Some weeds grew because they invasively dropped their unwanted ‘seed’ in my life. Others, I had to admit were there because I (even if unintentionally) planted them myself.
Regardless of how they got there, they had to go. And whether by own hand, or with the help of others, the weeding was accomplished.
And it was good. Healing. Cleansing.
But here’s the thing.
Sometimes, without my permission and usually without my immediate awareness, other weeds grew. Sometimes, they still do. Sometimes they look an awful lot like the ones I dealt with before. Other times they look new and even foreign.
Sometimes I mistake them for something of beauty or purpose.
Those are usually the most painful ones to pull out by the root. Thankfully, the salve of God’s grace helps to ease the pain.
(I said ‘ease’ it. Not take it away completely.)
Like moistening the soil, grace makes the weed easier to remove.
Nonetheless, these weeds can easily fill the emotional equivalent of space in my life that those eight bags did in my garage. Which leads me to the next metaphor I saw. Or rather, smelled.
I went out of town last week and before we left I asked our son to put the bags of clippings at the curb for yard waste pick up.
But, he forgot.
When we returned home and opened the garage door, the smell of rotting weeds nearly knocked us back outside.
I’m not kidding. The stench was terrible!
And with the next unfortunate inhale, here’s what hit me...
Once we complete the business of ‘pulling our weeds’, we must be careful to get rid of them completely.
If we leave them laying around rotting inside our hearts and minds, their stench will be a constant reminder of all that is negative, unhealthy and broken in our lives.
Much like my home presently, the outside may look wonderful, but the inside will be a pungent reminder of all that is wrong with us.
Shame will taunt us into believing that we’re ‘less than’ because of where we’ve been.
It will tell us that we may have cleaned up appearances for the outside world, but on the inside, we still smell the same.
But that's a lie. All of it. Lies.
Fortunately, there is a Way to combat the lies.
If we allow Him, God can take the good, hard work of our weeding and remove any remnants that threaten our freedom. The sweet fragrance of grace will take the place of shame and regret. Sometimes He will use friends, family or counselors to achieve this.
Sometimes, its a still small voice calling us to truth and freedom.
Then, we can be free to believe the truth: we are uniquely qualified to help others who may need to do some weeding of their own.
I’d like to say that I always allow God to do that in my own life. But the truth is I’m saying this because I need the reminder just as much as anyone else.
Maybe even more.
So, weed away, my fellow weed-whacking warriors.
But get rid of the remains. Let God help you with that.
Then, step into the blossom of the beauty that is you and share it with a world that is waiting.
I know it’s scary. But if you don’t step out and be you, who else is gonna do it?