Last Tuesday afternoon, I finally tackled the gargantuan task of weed-pulling on our property. After receiving our first penalty notice from the HOA and enduring several nights of losing our dogs in the forest formerly known as our backyard, we decided enough was enough. Three hours later, I had definitely made a dent (I wish I had before and after photos to share), but there is still a lot to do to make it look nice. I pulled and pulled until my hands were swollen and tingly and my back was numb; and all the while, the same words of a particular song played over and over in my head: "Yesterday I felt so angry, and today so insecure. I hate it that I wrestle with the God that I adore. Your presence always heals me, so I wanna drink it in. You know where we're going, God, and you know where I've been..." I hummed this tune the whole time, and as I weeded, I noticed a dramatic difference in the types of things that were taking up residence in our otherwise bare yard.
There were giant, hideous, mutant weeds, several feet tall, with spikes and fuzz, growing in the corner of the yard, where there was never any shade and the ground was dry, dusty and hard. There were also smaller, fern-like plants that grew next to the house, where the ground was damp and soft and always shielded from the harsh effects of sunlight. No matter what technique I used to pull the mutant weeds out of the ground, they all snapped off at the base, leaving what I am sure is an intricate root system tucked securely in its dry, rocky home, and I am left holding a useless, disgusting, prickly mess in my hands. The more lush weeds (if you can even use the word "lush" to describe a weed) came effortlessly out of the softer ground next to the house.
Now, when you pull weeds for that long, in virtual silence, one of two things will inevitably happen: you start to have imaginary conversations in your head, or you start to hear from God. It's funny, the ways that God will speak to us. On this particular day, the words to that song played over and over, words that are very relevant in my life right now, and I needed some time to let them sink in and take shape and transform my soul. I needed a reminder pounded into my head that Christ is my rock when important things seem to be spinning out of control, and there was one situation in particular on my heart that, in spite of my best efforts, I cannot just let go.
But back to the weeds. I can't help but laugh that God used weeds to make an important point to me. If weeds are sin, like bitterness, pride, and unforgiveness, in what kind of ground will they most thrive? What kind of heart is fertile ground for these pests? Once weeds take over, they suffocate everything else that tries to grow around them. If I tried to plant anything beautiful or useful in that part of the yard, it wouldn't stand a chance. It was in that moment that I realized my heart was resembling a breeding ground for weeds more than a haven for beauty and health.
This realization didn't come full-circle until I went to my Wednesday night Bible study and heard a piece by Beth Moore that was not only timely, but downright true. For several months now, I have been struggling big time with forgiving the way that I know I am supposed to. Details are irrelevant, but some important people in my life have hurt me in a way I never thought they were capable of, and the chain of events over the last several months has left me confused, brokenhearted, and at a total loss. I have never been faced with anything like this before, and it has done a number on the condition of my heart.
I was so thankful to hear Beth Moore validate my struggle with this. That it is human nature to not want to forgive someone because then they "win"... that we don't want to forgive someone until we get what we want from them. Very true, and I've heard it before. What she said that was different was what made me realize that forgiveness is unconditional, especially when we are in disagreement with a fellow sister in Christ. I do not need any more from those who offended me than what I got, because I am never going to get it. Just because of Christ, I am going to get over it. And just like that, I felt the roots of the weeds that held a suffocating grip on my heart loosen, and finally I could breathe again.
It's not easy to forget what happened, although I hope to someday. It's hard to imagine what the coming days will look like in light of this situation, but with God's help it will become what He wants it to be. I have hope because I am surrounded by reminders of the power of love and forgiveness in restored relationships, some that belong to me and some that I was merely witness to. I am sure I will make my share of mistakes along the way. But for now, I refuse to let the enemy win this thing, at least on my end. Only God can change hearts, and who knew? He would change mine on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, weeding the yard.