Lessons From My Garden

Written by Rhonda Alstott

“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the venue of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.” Proverbs 24:30-31

 

It’s that time of year that gardeners like me love. New life in the ground with promises of bounty to enjoy later. This year has been a year of “catching up” for me. Several years of failing knees left me unable to take care of things like I always have. Two new knees have allowed me to get back to the business of caring for my perennials. This has been exciting and both heartbreaking at the same time.

 

One particular tough job I’ve been working on is my largest flower bed. It’s overcome with plants that do not belong there, or in other words weeds. My flowers are trying their hardest to thrive there, but many are being choked out and overrun by invasive weeds. I’ve been working by carefully pulling those plants that don’t belong there, and it’s a hard job because I pull them up by the roots. I know this is the best way to get rid of them, taking them out root and all, and often their root is so strong and established I’m not able to get it all with a yank and have to bring in a garden tool. Other times, I unknowingly leave part of the root behind, and the weed comes back bigger, stronger, and more determined to stand. In my inability to get these weeds, my loving husband has attempted to help by using the “weed eater” or mower. This may have kept the weed out of sight, but the root is still there and has continued to grow, not to mention a few of my perennials have become some of the warfare casualties.   My largest flower bed has become overwhelming to me instead of being a source of joy and relaxation.

 

Isn’t this what happens in our personal lives as well?  Whether it’s a sin we wrestle with or an issue that plaques one of our relationships, if we don’t take care of the issue at hand and get to the root of it, it ends up overtaking us and growing to the point that our lives and relationships become the sin or issue instead of the purpose and design that God has for us. Often we try and “mow over” that which needs dealt with only to have a bigger issue continue to plague us. Anyone who has dealt with recovery from an addiction knows what it is like to try and cover up their behavior. They also understand that stopping their destructive behavior is just one step of the process. If the trauma or root cause of the addiction isn’t dealt with, that weed will continue to try and pop up through the soil. Ask any of us that have been married more than half of our lives and we can tell you that the “issues” we deal with as a married couple continue to plague us until we get to the issue at its root and get it out, making way for a healthy marriage to grow. The other thing we can all count on is that no matter how beautiful the garden appears, every garden has weeds. 

It isn’t all hopeless for those of us that want healthy gardens.  With consistent and intentional hard work, the weeds can be uprooted and replaced with the intended plants.  Those plants will need attention and feeding, but our spiritual lives and healthy relationships are worth it.  I have made it a practice to ask God to show me the weeds of my heart and to help me to get them out of my life.  I’ve made it a practice to study God’s word so I can have the right fertilizer for my soul.  There have been times my weeds were too high and I couldn’t distinguish them from the flowers and I’ve found a spiritual director or counselor to help.  I know there are those that are weed experts and know the right course of action to get them out once and for all.

 

I took my husband out to the flower bed this week.  I showed him how it was hard and overwhelming for me to take care of this alone. I accepted and confessed my responsibility in the neglect these past few years.  He acknowledged his responsibility in not getting those weeds up by the roots and just mowing them over.  More importantly, we both agreed that this garden and its future health and beauty will take the work of both of us.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2a “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

This verse reminds me that Jesus will continue to do the work He has started in me.  My job is to lay aside every weight and sin, or in gardening terms “weed”, and finish this race I find myself in.  Others before me have done it as well.  I need only keep looking to Jesus…

 

*For any of you gardeners that may be thinking “till that bed up and start over”, let me say in the early years of neglect that was tried.  Our cable lines are underneath it. Ask me how many times we had the cable company out to restore power…


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