Look! It's the same weeds I pulled four years ago! And last year! How many times must I pull the same weeds?
It occurred to me that perhaps the Lord is saying the same thing about my heart's garden. I strive to keep my weeds under control but inevitably I let my guard down, grow weary or make a poor decision and up they pop once again.
Either the root remained or passing birds redeposited them or they were borne upon the wind. In some way they found fertile ground in my heart.
When He moves us from out of our darkness into His light inevitably the weeds will be seen.
A gentle hand is required to remove the weeds without destroying the flowers. Though, sometimes the weeding will leave open wounds, bare patches, holes in my heart that leave me aching and vulnerable for a time
I mostly keep my head down during the process, heavy and burdened. Should I dare look up I find my neighbor nearby bringing calm peace and trust to brighten my spirits, if I will be open and allow her in.
I look behind me to see how far I've come but only see a plain path. It's only after much patience, when He's done - for a time - that I can see how He added His masterful touch to transform the difficult, the ugly, the bothersome, the sad, sometimes heartbroken weedy parts of my heart into something beautiful, useful, and meaningful to me and perhaps also to someone else.
I really did know what I was getting into when I decided to tear out all the lupine in the driveway circle. We had done it once before. It is hard, dirty, frustrating work ripping out those dead, dry, brittle plants whose tap roots can be up to 3 feet long and, I don't know, 8" around at the top tapering down to a point at the 3' mark. They are really pretty and green in the spring producing beautiful yellow bract-like flowers and when massed together are very attractive. But when the flowers fade into dry seed pods, they literally explode and shoot the seeds everywhere to ensure next years crop. Then the plants seriously degrade into dry, brown, scraggly messes. Lupine are very invasive and very persistent. So I knew I had my work cut out for me and I had a plan to transform the scrubby circle into a lush example of nature's beauty.
After working for a day by myself, my strong hubby, Ron, volunteered to help. Every difficult job goes easier with a buddy, and in one mighty and valiant effort, we cleared 3/4 of the circle before we ran out of oomph. We still had to haul the mess back to the burn pile and thankfully I was inspired with the idea to work smarter, as they say, and use the truck to deliver them to their fiery fate. Brilliant!
So now there was only a "little bit" left for me to finish up the next day while Ron went to work. I thought, "No prob. I can handle this bit", and tore into it with great optimism, in spite of the soreness from yesterdays effort. After only about 15 minutes of slipping down the sloping side of the circle, attempting to effectively wield my shovel against those evil shrubs whose cantankerous and mischievous tap roots invade the plumbing systems of China to tickle the bums of proper Chinese ladies, and whose branches fight back slapping me in the face, smearing dirt in my hair, shoes and down my shirt stuffing what little available space remains in my bra, I was exhausted. I plopped down on the log bench under the maple tree in tears. "Why am I doing this? I just wanna be done. This is so freaking hard! What are you trying to teach me?"
After I caught my breath a bit and got over myself, a few thoughts began to surface inside from the place where God speaks to me. They went like this: "Are you really going to let these measly shrubs defeat you? You are smarter and stronger and tougher than they are. Look inside, find your strength. Be persistent and complete the job."
Persist. Persistent. Persistence. Continue despite opposition. Endure, recur (do it again). (Webster's Dictionary).
The word stuck out like a cross between a spanking and a pat on the back. Is that a definition for life in general or what? Life can sometimes give us a spanking and make us cry. Things don't always come easy. Especially the good stuff. I had to pull myself out of myself and make the sacrifice to finish the job I wanted to do. Most everything requires a sacrifice. Of time, of energy, of money, of love, of strength, of endurance, of ego, pain, forgiveness, of, of, of...
It's just so plain freaking, hard sometimes but we have to persist, make the sacrifice and move forward. Even if it's just pulling up one root at a time with a slip back down only to have to climb back up to do it again. But it's worth it. Worth the big and little sacrifices. Opposition and persistence make us strong and, when we look back to see how far we've come, brings fulfillment and satisfaction to our hearts.
And this is important, we have to remember that when life spanks us we need to give ourselves a pat on the back by looking around to see how much we've accomplished, how far we've come. It's an immediate reward and encourages us to continue, to "recur", to do it again. There will always be another opportunity to exercise persistence. My next opportunity is at hand. I must complete the job I started, finish the clean up and replanting. When it's all done, and it'll take a while, I'll have to persist in it, I can look back, remember what it was, see what it is and, with "recurring persistent patience", imagine what it will become.
It takes so long to see progress when one is waiting for lushness. So much work and money and time and energy. But I must just continue to bite off a little at a time. Like the deer.
The deer. The deer. The deer. They nibble everything right down to the nubbins. A bite at a time. Very patiently.
Patience. Patience, like a deer, is beautiful and there's always a surprise, a pleasant one or more, or a mangled plant or two, waiting for me along the path, which end I never reach.
There's always something to do, plant, pick up, weed, trim, repair ~ oh goodness. But it's okay. This is what it's like to stay put in one place for longer than a few years. It's homey and comfortable to live in a place long enough to really experience the thought and planning, then the execution of maintaining it. And then starting back at the beginning with the re-doing of it. There's a peace, brought through continuity, that grows inside my heart. Cyclical, familiar, comforting, renewing, nourishing, fulfilling, satisfying. Even in spite of the place being imperfect, not matching what my initial dream was of "my home" here. This is a good place, with challenges that are teaching me to be patient; to grow up, become mature; accept and live in reality; learn discipline and obedience; embrace pain and disappointment and know that it won't last forever, that I will live through it and be stronger in the end, and for those challenges that do last forever, I will have the strength and courage to face and endure them.
Patience. I thank God for patience. Even in writing it takes patience to think thoughts through, take pen in hand, translate from heart to head and put to paper each little loop of each letter, or each individual strike of each key one at a time, to form the words that express the thoughts that began as little bright spots in my heart. From a nearly imperceptible spark deep inside of me to full-fledged complete sentences, paragraphs, whole pages even, of words strung together into an idea or observation that someone can read, comprehend and grab hold of. Fascinating. Seeds sprouting, spreading perhaps by underground runners to bloom and produce nourishment and beauty for the body, spirit and soul. And as such, are words strung together sprouting fresh thoughts that form nourishment of a more intangible type for the same body, spirit and soul. All because of patience. And hard work, of course.
At least that's what I got out of it today. I know there's more. More digging, pruning, planting, weeding, in both the garden and my life. One day I'll stand up, straighten my bent over back, look around and see, the deer!? Yes, the beautiful deer peacefully grazing through my garden. They must feel safe here in my garden. They come often enough.
Hopefully, too, I'll see how far I've come, how much I've accomplished, how much patience I've acquired. I'm so glad there's tomorrow. I've so much more to learn and need more time, and the added perspective of hindsight.