It’s been a long week. After a week like this I find myself wonder why God created us to be emotional beings? Dealing with emotions is tough and tiring stuff. Often life has a way of pulling the rug out from under you and I seem to be caught in one of those moments. Thankfully, I have learned a little bit about the best way for me to handle times like this without a complete mental breakdown. I’m not saying it will work for everyone but for me when I am feeling mentally overwhelmed I usually end up focusing my energy on creating a beautiful space. I love beautiful things and I will shamefully admit that often a beautiful space is just a really clean and/or organized house. You don’t have to know me for long to know that I clean when emotional whether I’m experiencing positive or negative emotions. But today, I didn’t clean, 1) because my house was mostly clean anyway thanks in part to my 17-year-old and 2) because I had flowers in my garden that needed to be planted before they died.
Gardening really isn’t my thing and I wouldn’t spend any time doing it if it wasn’t for my affinity for all things beautiful. I spent my day pulling weeds, planting new flowers, pulling weeds, repositioning old flowers and did I mention pulling weeds. Weeds are so tenacious. No matter how often you pull them up, inevitably they will reappear. They also come in different shapes and sizes. The weeds in one area of my flower garden weren’t too bad. They were plenty but easily eradicated. While I was pulling a bazillion of them I got a sense that the weeds represented the sin in my life. I think I have an overactive sin nature. Most days I feel like a pretty great human. I love Jesus and I try my best to follow Him and His Word so that other people can see Jesus in me. But that doesn’t change the sin that is so prevalent in my heart and life. I want to be like Jesus but I am also acutely aware of all the parts of me that reflect my humanness. That inherent nature means I’m ALWAYS in need of a Savior. My sin will not ever be gone this side of heaven. So, I need Jesus to maintain my connection to the father. Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for me on the cross. You make it possible for the sin in my life to be pulled out so I can be who I was created to be – a reflection of Father.
In another area of my yard, not far from my flower garden, are other various kinds of weeds. Here the ivy and blackberry bushes have taken over. I don’t like the ivy. It’s a weed; I know this. It is invasive and can be home to gross critters but what lies beneath the ivy is so ugly that I’ve intentionally allowed the ivy to remain. As I was trimming it back today, I first had to deal with huge blackberry bushes that were threatening to take over as well. I hate blackberry bushes so so much and today I was determined to get them out of my yard. I wrestled these things all day and as I did I began to see another parallel in my spiritual life.
The ivy represents the pain in my heart. By all outward appearances, my pain doesn’t seem that bad. I have an exterior that I allow the world to see that seems functional and even somewhat beautiful. Much like Ivy which has some curb appeal on the exterior, it is not really that beautiful because it is rooted in pain. Sadly the pain acts as a form of security for me. I cling to it. What I’m learning is that I’m clinging to lies. My pain is destroying the good in my life. But God’s word say in Genesis 50:20 “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
What hides below the surface of the ivy in my yard has enormous potential. It has the potential to overtake you but it also has the potential to unlock the shackles of bondage. In the beautiful picture, the Lord gave me, this potential is the blackberry bushes. They represents unresolved issues that the Father brings to the surface of our awareness. Blackberry vines can sprout up fast and if left unchecked they can unknowingly take over everything. You can cut them back but doing so only temporarily fixes the problem. A permanent fix requires locating the root, digging down as deep as necessary and pulling out as much of the root as possible. Roots have a funny way of growing and often will spring up in a totally new location just for the heck of it. So even when you do all the work of trying to pull the entire root system you still might have to deal with it again at some point in the future. This is hard work. It requires determination to withstand the pokes and scratches that come with handling sticker bushes. Dealing with pain has the potential to leave you broken and bleeding but doing it with Jesus can produce the most incredible freedom in the end.
Today I did so much more than rid my yard of blackberry bushes. I processed some painful situation with Jesus. Every time I choose to do that I experience more freedom and I become a truer version of myself – someone created in the image of the Lord Almighty.