The wet weather, along with a mix of warm and cool days in my area has brought foliage of all kinds into view. Blossoms on the dogwood, crabapple, pear, and redbud trees seem to appear overnight. Blooms on the verbena, rhododendron, bleeding heart, lilac, and azalea bushes add a splash of color all around. The iris, columbine, coreopsis, salvia, and coral bells are also blooming. The berry plants and bushes in my garden have tiny blossoms and fruits starting to form. All the life emerging from the colorful display brings peace and hope to my wandering and wondering soul.
Mixed in with the beauty and color before me, I also see weeds. These weeds are everywhere, including: the landscape beds, garden, driveway gravel, grass, and sidewalk cracks. Though I am not exactly excited to see the weeds, I know they are also God’s creations, and that they have their own purpose in life. Sometimes the purpose is not obvious or appreciated, which adds a bit of stress or angst to the daily routine. However, as with any lesson from God, it happens in His timeframe, according to His ways, and with His sense of humor.
I am sure He laughed at me the other day when I grew angry with the weeds in the driveway. My driveway is very long and wraps around my house, garage, and shed in a Y shape. The weeds along the edges and through the middle of certain sections of the driveway can be seen when the sun shines early in the morning and late at night, creating what looks like a mess to me. (I am sure God doesn’t see it this way, but He is entitled to His opinion since He is God after all).
Actually, the weeds drive me crazy in the driveway because I have worked YEARS on improving this section of my property. I have graded, edged, and meticulously spent HOURS making the driveway look pleasing to the eye. Seeing the weeds emerge and grow into a tiny forest of foliage made me upset this year. So, instead of doing other necessary tasks one night, I went to work weeding.
Yes, I know there are products one can spray to make the weeds disappear without having to tediously pick and pull at the roots. However, I am old-fashioned (and a bit cheap when it comes to certain things) and prefer hard labor over the easy way out. I am also impatient, which is another reason I don’t care for Roundup or other chemical sprays. Waiting for the chemicals to work and then for all the dry, dead blotches to disappear takes too long for my anal mind. It is much faster for me to go along with my little trowel and fill the wheelbarrow with the weeds, resulting in instant gratification.
As I dug and pulled at the weeds, I contemplated how weeds are like problems in life. They have the potential to pop up out of nowhere, be a nuisance, try our patience, test our mental and physical well-being, and provide a different perspective if we are willing to open our minds, eyes, and hearts. Like problems, weeds also can help us to build character, which can be very helpful in the long term.
Weeds and problems have roots. Some are shallow, others run deep. Some are simple structures, others more complex. Some are easy to solve or remove; others take time, energy, and other resources from us. As we learn to analyze the roots, we find certain methods more effective and efficient to use than others. Going through this process of analyzing, trying, and reassessing provides opportunities for our own growth and development.
I should clarify that I do not enjoy destroying God’s creations, although I do wonder at times why God puts the weeds in places that irritate me. He has the whole universe to plant seeds of all kinds, so why does He have to pick my driveway for His weed garden?
For many years, this question left me puzzled. However, I have learned through experience that the weeds are God’s way of helping me resolve other problems or life issues. You see, weeding requires physical activity, which I sincerely love with all my being. It also requires some thought at times, allowing me to flex my mental muscles. The combination of activities within my body provides an opportunity to be what I call “fully engaged” in life—moving in many different ways with a purpose, and the end goal of improving my overall well-being.
All the digging and pulling allows me to vent my frustrations. The time spent out in the fresh air offers a release for cluttered thoughts. The end result of a neater looking area within the landscape gives me a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of reward for my efforts, and the determination to keep moving forward through other issues or problems I encounter.
My latest weeding expedition had some daunting aspects to it, but I did my best to keep focused, keep moving, and not let the mental aspect of the chore deter me from reaching my goal. Yes, there were moments when I thought I’d never get done, but a little voice inside reassured me that each weed pulled was progress, albeit one step at a time. As I worked, I thought about many other life experiences where I had to keep moving forward despite the circumstances. My mind recalled some very challenging tasks and goals I had accomplished through diligence, effort, faith, and determination. In reflecting upon these times, I realized:
- How far I have come in the journey called life
- How my experiences have allowed me to gain wisdom and perspective
- How much one’s efforts help determine one’s character
These realizations in turn gave me energy to persevere. Though I spent the better part of two evenings pulling weeds, the end result was more than a nice looking driveway. It also included a much needed change of pace for me, a way to clear my mind, a channel to redirect my frustrations, and some time to talk with God about life.
This talking with God is somewhat of a new exercise for me, one I kind of stumbled upon by accident. Despite the newness, I can see the benefits of this activity, so I will most likely continue to explore it and try different methods to determine what works best. This exploration process will take time, energy, and other resources from me, but I believe the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long term.
Life is indeed a journey full of a variety of weeds. How we view the weeds, what we do with the weeds, and who we employ to help us with the weeds is a learning process. May we learn to see the beauty within life despite these weeds, and may this beauty allow us to grow to our fullest potential in time.