Every year these weeds show up in my yard. My innocent boys collect them into tiny bouquets and bring them to me full of pride. Faces beaming, arms outstretched, presenting me with their treasures they are certain will bring me equal joy. For now I play along. I have not yet broke it to them that these are in fact weeds. They do indeed look pretty for a while, but they are weeds just the same. Within hours of picking them they are shriveled and dead. Very little actual life sustained their beauty. On the surface they are beautiful. Standing out among the plain green blades of grass they draw attention to themselves. Even though, in reality, it is just an invasive nuisance that nobody actually wants around.
Weed flowers are everywhere, not just in our lawns. Weeds take root in our hearts and bloom in our lives all the time. That purchase made to not let on that finances aren’t actually that stable. The marriage that is full of hand holding and public hugs but at home is a breeding ground for resentment and contempt. The achievement in stepping to the next rung of the corporate ladder, ignoring the toll it took on family, mental health and spiritual growth. The high achiever that is covering up for a deep sense of inadequacy. The pew sitters on a Sunday that never pick up the Bible or prayers during the week. Or the simple “I’m fine.” in response to a close friend’s “How are you?” when both know life burning to the ground in the background. All of them are weed flowers. Things we hope nobody will notice if we just keep them looking at the flower.
Here’s the truth of the matter at hand:
~We all have weed flowers.~
All of us. Everyone we see and observe, including ourselves. They have weeds, you have weeds, I have weeds. I don’t care how many herbicides are sprayed on our lawns, or how perfect our daily routines are. We have weeds. I have weeds. Seriously. That’s a picture of my lawn, and my children are currently watching T.V. so I can get these ideas down on paper before I lose them to the idea sandstorm that is my mind. We all have weeds and we always will have them. No matter how well we tend to our lawns and our hearts, the weeds will always creep back in. That is the nature of the fallen world that we live in.
My heart needed to hear this truth recently. More importantly I needed to hear that this truth includes my children. Our children have weeds too. And it has nothing (well sometimes something) to do with our abilities or failures as parents. I lived for a long time under the invisible assumption that it was my job to prevent weeds from even taking root in their hearts. As soon as seeds of greed, jealousy, hatred, slander, disobedience or selfishness would show I would be right there to correct, admonish, or redirect them. It works for a while. Until they step outside the home that is, or until they start to show signs of the weeds in my own heart that have spread to theirs. What then? If it’s my job to prevent the weeds, now not only am I failing by not preventing my own, but now they are out there in our fallen world and Lord knows there are no spiritual herbicides to spray over my children the same way I slather them in sunscreen. (Wouldn’t that be a million dollar business!) Needless to say I was failing A LOT at my perceived goal, and my children were growing gigantic weeds. I’m talking thistles and everything. Probably because they were poking themselves on my thistles. My evenings were filled with guilt, anger, frustration and a lot of parenting book research. Then the truth dawned on me.
~We all have weed flowers and I am not the Gardener. ~
I am a grown woman with weeds, why on earth would I expect my young children to not have any?
It is not our job to prevent weeds from taking root. They will anyways. It is our job to turn ourselves over the the Gardener to tend to us. I will never be able to prevent weeds from forming in the hearts of my children, or myself. I can, however, teach them how to let God care for them and allow Him to show them what needs to be tended to. I can show them what it’s like to live as an adult with weeds and constantly rely on the Gardener to pull them up. I can teach them and show them the deep love God has for us that keeps us from even deliberately hanging onto weeds in the first place.
Christ warns of temptation for this double life. He hammers the Pharisees on it in Matthew 23. The teachers of religious law of the time were not so unlike us. Sure my weeds aren’t leading to the crucifixion of an innocent man, but every weed flower is a sign of the underlying sin that does lead to spiritual death, and that is exactly what Christ died for in the first place. The Pharisees loved to be known as holy, righteous and important. They reveled in being known by humans for how great they were before God, only to have Christ point at their weed flower, quite viciously, right in the public square. Christ nailed them for the state of their heart by pointing out exactly what God saw, instead of what they thought He wanted. And they nailed him to a tree.
One of my favorite Veggietales tunes says
~”You can’t get to heaven in a washing machine,
because God doesn’t care if you’re clothes are clean.
All my sins are washed away
I’ve been redeemed.”~
Such truth! I have an entire room in my home devoted to making the outside of my family clean. Do I have one dedicated to heart cleaning? No. A chair maybe, but not our own room. I hope I spend just as much time teaching my children how to let God clean their hearts as I do cleaning their clothes. In the end,that’s all that matters.
Garden tending is not easy. That’s why we all let ourselves keep those flowers. If we let God pull them, everyone is going to see that big hole and know it was just a weed. There will be spiritual dirt everywhere. In reality, they already know. We see through others and others see through us too. Truly, God already knows and cares. Let’s get rid of the double life. Let’s allow God to dig as deeply as he needs to in order for him to plant true flowers that will bloom year after year. Let him dig, day in and day out, so he can plant love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These flowers bear the best fruits, Spiritual fruits. Grow that beautiful garden!
Consider the Word/Reflections to Consider
Before your sit down and read, ask God to show you where your weed flowers are. As you read pay attention to what comes to mind. How is this flower distracting you from an honest life with your family, friends, children, co workers or God? Can you let him dig it up? What will that look like? How can you let go of something that isn’t real in the first place?
Have your weed flowers hurt anyone lately? Does an apology need to come from you? How can you show them that you are trying to dig up that weed and start a new flower with an apology and forgiveness?