My mother-in-law, who loves growing her flowers, once asked me what flowers I was growing in my yard. It was hard not to laugh. Gardening has never been my thing.
As a matter of fact, most of my memories of gardening include me trying to find a way to not have to wade through the grass and plants. I do, however, have one delicious memory of my dad growing peanuts when I was about six or seven when I hid at the end of the row to eat those lovely little raw peanuts.
Then two years ago, my husband decided it would be a great idea for us to start a garden. We started small -- pots and a small plot in our backyard. Then our neighbors told us we could use part of their yard to have a larger garden. I managed to avoid the action last year, but this year even I was roped into our family garden.
Now I see that there are some real benefits to gardening. We not only have been able to grow lots of yummy, nutritious, basically free vegetables, but also we have been able to share the wealth with our neighbors around us. Additionally, our kids are learning to develop a work ethic, it's a great science experiment on the life cycle of plants, we get to be outdoors, and we are working together as a family.
Thus, several weeks ago, I found myself in the garden weeding -- NOT my favorite part. (My favorite part is eating the cherry tomatoes right off the plant -- maybe I haven't grown up all that much). In school, I've taught my kids about the way that some species manage to survive in nature. One of those ways is mimicry. And as I was in the garden one morning I noticed how similar some of the weeds were to the plants that we were actually trying to grow. As I studied the leaves to make sure that I wasn't ripping up our precious pea plants, my mind, as usual, began to wander and a very poignant realization came to me.
Our lives are much like the plants growing in a garden. We choose many people and things in which to invest ourselves. Some of these are quality people and important activities that make us grow. Some of these are people and activities that stump our growth and hold us back from our full potential. In order to reach our full potential, we need to remove the weeds from our lives.
Some weeds are easy to spot. The friends that are always negative and bring you down -- weed. Activities that take time away from family or church -- weed. Gossip -- weed. Materialism -- weed. Idleness -- weed.
Some weeds are not so easy to see such as friends that seem to be on the same page as us, but are quietly manipulating us to do things that aren't right or are sucking away energy that we should be investing somewhere else.
Even worse are the weeds in life that mimic goodness. My little ones often pick "flowers" from the yard to bring in for me. The flowers are just weeds that have popped up, but the kids only see their beauty. Some of the activities in which we invest our time look like pretty flowers but may not be anything more than a distraction from our personal growth. You may teach Sunday School every week, but if you aren't stopping to allow God to work in your life or living your life in such a way that people see godliness in you, that teaching is a weed in your life.
If we don't remove the weeds from the garden, they will continue to grow and flourish. They will choke out the good plants and make the rows so overgrown that we cannot get down them. Likewise, when we do not stop the weeds in our life, we get choked out and cannot reach the potential that we are created to have.
Lately, I've been taking stock of some of the things and people in my life. Unfortunately, there are some of both that I have had to move away from being involved with in my everyday life. And this weeding is not always easy. It's hard when there is someone or something in your life that you're used to having around but that you have to move away from for your own benefit.. It's difficult to realize that your help to someone may really just be a crutch for someone else to lean on and that you may actually be working as an enabler, not a helper. It's difficult when activities that you enjoy doing are no longer the activities that are beneficial to you.
I challenge you to stop and think about the things in your life. Are there weeds that are stunting your growth?
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalms 1: 1 - 3