The Weeds of Life
I hate weeds, which means I have a lot to hate about my lawn and garden. But I have vowed to keep fighting despite a losing battle. Let’s face it; it’s tough keeping weeds out of our gardens. It requires lots of getting down on our hands and knees, working the soil, pulling, digging and, at times, using some form of concoction to finally get rid of them.
It’s hard work.
There are times when I stroll through my garden and see a small weed and think, “Oh, I’ll get that tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow comes and behold, it's grown into a weed from the Little Shop of Horrors. I’m amazed at how quickly weeds can take over.
There are other times, especially in early spring, when I bend down to pull a weed and catch myself, realizing I was just about to pull out that expensive perennial I planted the fall before. And . on the contrary, I can say with all honesty that I have carefully tended a plant for months, only to realize in July that I watered and nurtured a perfect specimen of wild goldenrod.
There are weeds in life, too. And like in the garden, it requires a lot of hard work to identify them and get them out. They start out unassuming and sometimes unrecognizable from the good things in our lives.
Weeds can be like that.
Sometimes weeds in our lives start out small and subtle... like a habit, that left unattended, can grow into a full blown, uncontrollable addiction. Or a grudge against someone that, unchecked, can grow into an obsession of hatred.
I should know. When I was in middle school I was bullied and made fun of by a classmate. She spread nasty rumors about me and met me after school to beat me up. In gym class, she teased me and told me how ugly I was. Slowly my self-image, value, worth, and dignity faded away. I carried those wounds with me for years.
My grudge against her was a weed that eventually grew into hatred, and it almost destroyed me. The roots went deep. But the day came when I had to face my hatred toward her and forgive... even though she didn’t ask for it, even though she didn’t try to make up for what she did. The unforgiveness and hatred that I held on to was hurting me more than the pain I experienced in my childhood. By holding on to my hatred, I was still allowing her to dictate my life and determine my value, despite years having passed since I’d seen her. Her taunting still controlled me. I let it.
I wish I had known as a school girl about the principles of weeding: get them when they’re small, and get the whole root. If you’ve ever pulled dandelions, you know they have really deep tap roots. If you just chop off the leaves and those yellow flowers, your lawn will look all right for a couple days. But eventually those weeds will come back bigger and stronger than ever, and your lawn will be a sea of yellow.
In our lives, if we just clean up the outward appearance so it looks good from the outside, but don’t get the root, the weeds of life will overtake us and only get stronger and more difficult to get rid of, too.
There’s another principle to removing weeds. Have you ever tried pulling weeds during a dry spell? Compare that to pulling weeds after a dousing rain. There’s a big difference, isn’t there? When the earth is nourished and softened, it’s easier to pull weeds.
Likewise, I have known some people who have allowed pain, heartache, and trials to harden their hearts like cement. As a result, the weeds of life that have grown through the cracks have a stronghold that won’t let go. I long for them to allow their hearts to be open, to risk having the gentle rain of love penetrate their soul to soften the grip.
Our weeds in life need to be treated the same as weeds in a garden.
Admittedly, I’ve toiled and worked to remove the deeply rooted weeds of my life, and yes, a lot of time was spent on my knees. It’s a continual process. Weeds keep trying to spring up and rob the joy of life.
But as with my garden, I won’t give up the battle. I’ll continue to learn to identify them and get them when they’re small, and continue to experience the joy that working in the garden and life can bring.