In the spring of last year I went out to help my hub with the massive cleanup of downed pine branches and sticks from the big ice storm we had in February. He told me to just sit on the tractor and talk to him while he worked, but I’m just not one to sit when there is work to do. So I carried my rake out the pasture with me, raking not far from where he was dealing with the “big stuff”.
While I was raking, I was chastising myself for not bringing garden gloves with me. There was quite a bit of sap on the limbs that were too big to rake and therefore I had to carry to the pile I was making.
There was also some dead debris in one of the hedgerows that I had been meaning to clean out for several years, but by the time I thought about it, it was far too late into spring. The xylem and phloem had already returned to the vines and briars, and with their new strength intact, were too hard to deal with. I vowed to get to it the next year.
And then the next.
I was almost giddy when I realized that this was the year that I was going to get the upper hand on that ugly mess. I reached over and started pulling the shriveled, dry vines and quickly caught the dead briars as well.
With bare hands.
But I kept working and within an hour the whole area was clean and looked great. It was worth the temporary pain in my hands to finally be rid of that eyesore.
It hurt so good.
If you get a rush from cleaning brush and having a well manicured yard- you get it. Once you start into a project like this (or pulling weeds, which is euphoric to me!) it’s like getting tunnel vision. There is nothing but you and the weeds and the newly cleaned area in your focus.
It borders on obsession.
It’s the stamping out of their ugliness that pushed me to keep raking and getting ready for the new life of budding trees and plants that would be there in a few weeks, able to flourish free of the briars that held them back for so many summers.
When I got back to raking, I thought about how weeding a garden or cleaning out briars and dead sticks is kind of like how we keep our inner life in good health. In order to stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually in good shape, we have to be willing to “weed the garden” of our lives.
Spring does that to me. Makes me philosophical.
In truth, “the weeds” that I have neglected have most likely become bad habits or make areas in my life that don’t necessarily look so great. They can cause an underlying current of anxiety and fear. When left unchecked, those “weeds” creep into my everyday life, preventing me from fully appreciating those I love and seeking to rob me of daily peace. In seasons when those bad things are left to run wild they choke out the woman I desire to be.
It’s hard to tend to the garden of our lives, but it is vital to good health. Mentally and emotionally, pulling up old memories, old hurts is not for the faint hearted. Words remembered spoken by us or to us can cause a myriad of emotions. Pain. Confusion. Open wounds.
Some weeding is done easily, like pulling chickweed. One slight tug and the whole mess is gone. Others are like wild violets and dandelions..the effort to dig deep to get to the invasive root system is a real workout.
Unresolved past hurts can fester in the weirdest places of our inner life and hold us back in a hundred ways. It’s easy to spot the big ones-an inability to trust people fully, requiring constant affirmation from the important people in our lives and broken relationships.
All relationships, be it marriage, family or friendships are like gardens. They need to be nourished by time, attention and love, and weeded when needed by self-examination, forgiveness and prayer. Most of all with the reality check that the only person we can control fully is ourselves.
It will hurt so good.