Today was gardening day. I have not been as disciplined in my garden as I normally am, and it shows. I did some spring planting, but did not fill up the beds completely. Because there were some open unused spaces in the beds, the weeds came in and tried to take over. Today, as I was pulling the weeds, I was castigating myself for not finishing the spring planting. I am sure I had a good reason at the time: new grandbabies, too cool, too hot, too wet….sometimes any excuse will do. As I am reaping my lack of discipline with weeds, I am thinking of our emotional and spiritual lives.
You see, the weeds in the garden are really metaphors for the weeds in our lives. We all have those areas where the ground has been cleared, but we have been too distracted, or too ill disciplined to put forth the effort to cultivate something beautiful there. Or, we may have looked at the weeds and been so horrified with the effort that was needed to clear the ground that we just walked away, and put up a wall to shut off that area.
We all have areas in our souls where we have neglected ground. We have been meaning to get around to planting something good, but to tell you the truth; it just takes too much effort. We have to revisit places where the ugly things are: the hurts, the disappointments, the dreams which never turned into reality. We have to go back to those places and find out why? Did we give up? Was it just too hard? Did we not want to spend the effort and the time to clean up the mess?
Sometimes, we need to enlist the aid of a helper. I have done that myself. Come Monday evening, (if the weather holds) my garden will be ready for a Good Housekeeping photo shoot. What about those inner gardens? Do we need to enlist the help of a friend? The Apostle Paul reminds us of God, who “comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.’
We need to understand that when we are clearing, weeding, planting in the gardens of our soul, it is hard work. But… we also need to understand that when we have done the heavy lifting, we see that there are positive benefits. We are encouraged, and we are inspired. We have eyes to see when someone else is in the same or similar weedy place that we just left. Because we have come through the weeds, we can encourage, motivate, help and mentor someone else… some call it playing it forward.
Where are you? How can you play it forward?