One early morning, with the ground soaked from the previous night’s downpour, I walked to the garden and started pulling weeds. As I worked, I realized how many similarities there are between removing undesirable plants from our gardens, and removing non-plant “weeds”—people, situations, painful memories, hurtful experiences—from our lives.
Both kinds of weed removal require effort.
Both are tasks that we often don’t want to do.
Both are necessary for healthy growth.
The best time to pull weeds is after its rained. If you try when the ground is impenetrable, you often only get what’s above the surface—you never get to the root of the problem.
The best time to remove the “weeds” in life is when you’re in a good place; when your mindset is malleable; when you’re open to change.
Tiny weeds—those you might be tempted to ignore because they blend in with the landscape—are often the toughest to pull out. They can be almost invisible among the “good” plants.
Tiny hurts in life—those seemingly small things like casually hurled insults, hateful looks and silence—have significant power when they band together. With enough of them they can choke out what’s good.
Some weeds are downright pretty. At points, they look as lovely as the perennial flowers we really want to grow.
Some weeds in your life are disguised as beautiful humans—dressed perfectly and speaking with such lilting voices that you would think they’re angels.
Sometimes, I pull out a flower or few blades of grass tied up with the offending weed. I separate them and replant them in another place. Sometimes they make it; sometimes they die.
Sometimes, in your weeding, there’ll be collateral damage, like someone who leaves your life because you stood up for yourself, or an opportunity that goes away because you wouldn’t turn your back on something fundamentally wrong.
There are times when, struggling to remove a big weed, I pull too much dirt out with it leaving a gaping hole. I can put a beautiful plant in that hole, I can encourage the ground to simply “settle in” or I can keep the hole there as a reminder of what I removed.
There are times when, in your determination to get rid of a weed, the hole you create—because of residual destruction—is really large. You can replant something positive, let it settle, or just allow that hole to stay empty to remind you of the work you did to remove that weed.
Sometimes I’m hurriedly pulling weeds. Sometimes I’m mindlessly plucking them out. Sometimes, I’m contemplative, looking at each one and really seeing it.
Sometimes you may be rushing through, removing offending people or things because you’re “on a mission”. Sometimes, you may do weeding easily, without a second thought. Sometimes you may stop and think about each weed and how it impacted you, then honor what it taught you and remove it from your life.
I often wear gloves to weed but that morning I pulled out the weeds with my bare hands. I felt the earth slip through my fingers. I recognized the value of the process.
You may, do your “life-weeding” with as much protection as you can get. And, sometimes, you might just “take the gloves off” and feel all of it—the pain, the challenges, and the heartache, and then make peace with your life because you’re choosing to live fully into it.
Weed removal requires effort.
It’s often a task that we don’t want to do.
It’s necessary for healthy growth.
I’ll never get all the weeds, so I’ll never be done weeding, and that’s okay. It’s part of the ebb and flow of human life.
In the garden that I built—the garden that God built—I get ready to move to the next morning task and think, “without all the weeds I’ve had to pull it may have been too easy; I wouldn’t have learned to nurture the bounty”.
So, I guess I’ll keep pulling weeds
and planting flowers
and, of course, peace.