Recognizing the Weeds
just a little something
to begin your week.
My dad has quite a green thumb and anything he has tried to grow in my parents’ backyard seems to flourish. I, on the other hand, have not been as blessed with that skill. He gave me a spider plant that I kept in my classroom when I taught fourth grade and I barely kept it alive; I had to give the students a job to water it just so I would remember!
When we moved into our new house three years ago, I decided to try my hand at gardening. Okay, so let me rephrase that: I decided to try my hand at keeping a plant alive. I learned the first key was having the proper sunlight. I put my aloe plant near the window in our kitchen and a few years later, I am proud to say, it is actually thriving.
With my newfound confidence, I wanted to venture further into the gardening world. That was just around the time that my neighbor asked me if we would like some tomato and pepper plants. “Sure,” I replied, eager to reclaim my confidence in gardening. He gave them to me in red plastic drinking glasses and told me to transport them in bigger buckets.
One day, several weeks later our neighbor asked my husband if I had thrown away the vegetables. “No,” my husband answered. “They’re right here still in the little cups you gave her.” He laughed and pointed to his plants, which were now growing almost three feet high. “She needs to transport them in larger pots!”
I felt a little foolish for my lack of gardening expertise. For some reason, I thought that the plants would outgrow the cups and then I would know that it was time for a new pot. Instead, they hadn’t grown much beyond what they were when he gave them to me.
I bought new buckets at the store that day, and came home to transport my precious plants. Jared helped me pound holes in the bottoms of the pots, questioning whether it was really worth all of the trouble. Yet, I was determined to nurse my new tomato plants into great health.
A couple of weeks later, my plants were blooming and flourishing, and I felt like a proud mother. That is, all but one. A week later, I noticed another plant growing in one of the tomato’s bucket. I thought that maybe the plant had split and it was growing alongside the other one. But when I checked it a few days later, I noticed I was severely mistaken. This new plant, which looked nothing like the other in its pot, was green and growing voraciously, and my poor tomato plant, brown and drooping, looked lifeless. It was then that it occurred to me: this green-looking plant was a weed! It was sucking the life out of my tomato plant!
I know what you must be thinking: Seriously, you didn’t know that was a weed? Well….no, thank you very much. Clearly, I have some more growing to do in my gardening skills.
But in all seriousness, the whole experience struck me deeply. I didn’t recognize it was a weed because I didn’t know enough about what weeds look like.
What about in my own life? Do I recognize the weeds that are sucking life from me, making me unproductive and unfruitful? Do I know what they look like so I can pluck them out?
I spent that morning journaling. It’s my way of connecting to my heart and asking God if there is stuff in my life I need to deal with. I asked Him to give me insight to help recognize the weeds in my life.
Facebook was the first thing that came to mind. I have enjoyed a fun way to stay connected to all of my friends. But in all honesty, a lot of times when I log on, I click on a friend’s photo album here, and a status message there, and 30 minutes have gone by before I even know it. In moderation, it can be an excellent social connector, but if I am not careful, it can suck my time and productivity.
Shopping came to mind next (and one I have mentioned before). As you know, I love to shop; I could spend all day walking around the mall hunting for bargains. Again, in moderation, this is a fun pastime, and an activity I love to do especially with my mom. But buying just to buy when I don’t need or shopping to escape life’s realities can be dangerous for me. Is it the best way for me to spend my time and money? What would be a better use?
I continued to brainstorm and another weed came to mind, one much more personal: fear. Fear sucks joy and peace from my life and keeps me shackled. Fear of what? you may ask. Fear of what people will think of me, fear of failure, fear of not being enough, fear of the unknowns—the things I can’t control. This weed feels a bit more tender than the others. How do I root this weed out so that I can experience all of the joy and peace that God intends for me?
I have found a major key for me in uprooting the weeds is quieting my heart to hear from God. In the past, I haven’t been very good about quieting myself down and listening. I filled my schedule with coffee dates with friends, and tons of obligations that were all good, but kept me from much-needed reflection time. I am trying to make conscious decisions to pause even when I’d rather escape it all (which normally plays out for me by shopping or logging onto Facebook). It’s those times when I realize that I am running from something and it’s time to reconnect to my heart and to God. Spending time with God in prayer and in His Word is to me like sunshine and water is to my tomato plant: both give vibrant life when experienced in necessary amounts.
Interestingly enough, Jesus tells an entire parable about weeds. He explains that a farmer went out to sow his seed and he scattered them in four places: a path, rocks, thorns, and good soil. He tells the story and the disciples ask the meaning of it all. He begins by saying, “The seed is the word of God” and then explains about the seed and the four locations it grew. For the thorns, He says,
“And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun.” (Luke 8:14, The Message)
Just like my tomato plant, I don’t want weeds in my life to crowd out the important priorities, like my relationship with God and others. Taking time to slow down and meditate on God’s truth helps to promote new growth in my life and notice the weeds that threaten to choke my maturation.
As we enjoy the fruits of our gardening this summer, may we be mindful of these truths and allow God’s Word to help us recognize the weeds, pluck them out, and produce in us new, vibrant growth.
“But the seed on good soil stands
for those with a noble and good heart,
who hear the word, retain it,
and by persevering produce a crop.”
“I have come that they may have life
and have it to the full.”
Do you have any gardening tips to share with me, the novice gardener? If so, please share in the comments section below. I need all the help I can get!