Friday, June 12, 2009

Cultivating Weeds

"But Mommy, they're so pretty!" Bethie insists. I, Mother Killjoy, am not blinded. They must go, lest they invade our precious vegetable garden. I yank mercilessly at the morning glory. It doesn't stand a chance. "Can't I just keep one?" she begs. I relent. "Yes, you may keep one." She gently gathers the roots and transfers her plant to a little dish. She waters it daily, and it survives. Because morning glory always survives.

I must admit, the bright white trumpets that greet me in the morning are attractive, and it almost seems a pity to wipe out the seemingly innocent population. Until I remember what happens when I let them go. They simply don't stop -- at least not around here. Their greedy little roots grab onto anything that resembles soil, and their vines twine hungrily around every plant, bush and tree. It's just not worth it. The work they create far outweighs any pleasure they bring in the morning.

My aunt, who lives in Nevada, is horrified that morning glory is considered a weed in my small corner of the world. She actually buys the stuff, waters it, and tends to it very carefully, that it may survive the desert climate. And, because it isn't an invasive, mutant nuisance in Nevada, there's nothing unlovely about them at all. On the contrary. The beautiful purple blossoms bring much joy and satisfaction, and we triumph in her success.

I'm pretty quick now to recognize the emerging green shoots here in Camas, and I pull them up as early as I can without a second thought -- at least the little shoots in my yard. The morning glory in my life, well that's a different story. I'm startled when I consider the number of blossoms that I might be cultivating. The blossoms that seem innocent and attractive on the surface, but might have actually become . . . weeds.

Every time I let something take over -- even something "good" -- I run the risk of squeezing the life out of surrounding plants. For instance, reading is a good thing, right? It's good in Camas, it's good in Nevada. However, is reading "good" when my children desperately need my attention? At that point it ceases to be "good" for me in Camas (no matter how edifying the material), because it has negatively affected the growth of my children. It may still be perfectly "good" for my aunt in Nevada, but not for me, not for that particular moment.

This translates to so many other areas that I'm a bit scared to look at my life square in the face and fess up. What about homeschooling? It's a good thing for my family right now. But not when I let it take over . . . . Not when it squeezes out relationships with the neighborhood children, and not when the idealization of it overshadows my relationship with my own children.

How about my computer? (Yikes!) Email? Facebook? Craigslist? Netflix? . . . . My blog? . . . . They can all be good and fun and useful. But they can also take over. Before I know it, the frantic work and worry outweighs the pleasure and goodness, and the other "good" in my life is neglected. Soon I'm tending a garden that may appear on the surface to be pretty, but has really become overrun with relentless, life-sapping weeds. It's just not worth it.

In the checkout line at the grocery store last week, my cashier sighed. I jokingly asked him if he'd rather be somewhere else. (It was such a beautiful day -- I certainly wished to be elsewhere!) "Yeah," he said. "In front of my computer." No hesitation. His first choice, given all options. The computer. Something good turned into a weed.

As I gaze across my life garden, I'm painfully aware that I may have some neglected weeding to do. Thankfully -- oh, thankfully -- I don't have to do it alone. My Father, the One who gardens with such tender expertise, will guide me. When I spend time with Him in the garden, my eyes are so clear, so focused. I can see the shoots that need to be pulled, recognizing them for the weeds that they are, and I can see the plants that should be cultivated because of their goodness and beauty. I will be like a well-watered garden, my frame will be strengthened, and I will find my joy in the Lord (Isaiah 58). Now that's worth it.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
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  1. You are such a gifted writer, and you put some of my recent thoughts into wonderful words, thank you! I too struggle daily with trying to spend more time with my loved ones instead of all the other "weeds," as you so aptly describe them, and it is so hard to balance everything out. Only with God's help can we do so! :)

  2. Well said, oh good and faithful servant!



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