I was out pulling weeds this morning and regretted waiting so long do it. Last year we put in a new bed , or really, extended one of the beds around our screened-in porch. The centipede grass had never really filled in around that area in four years, so rather than continue to bemoan the fact that the grass won’t grow there, we decided to include the bare area in the existing bed. Apparently, this is exactly what the centipede wanted, as it has been happily putting down roots since last year.
See, shortly after we started this enterprise last year, I grew extremely ill with my gallbladder, which ended when I finally had it removed in May. Even with it out, I did not bounce back from the surgery nearly as quickly as I’d expected, so many things in the yard that I normally tend were neglected. Jake generally handles the lawn-mowing, and Terry follows this up with the edging and blowing. Terry is a work-horse when it comes to stuff in the yard. It helps him release the stress of the week as he burns brush, cuts grass, etc. Our front yard is quite deceptive, as it is just an average size but our back yard spreads wide and deep. There’s always plenty to do.
When we moved in five years ago, the house was brand-new and the yard only held two trees and a few bushes in the front. We are plant-lovers (for therapy, if nothing else) and immediately began creating a landscape. Everything is well established now, with new beds, bushes and trees planted at times, and always, always, I’m trying out different annuals to see which work well. Meanwhile, all these beds take work. This morning, as I was trying to work on the bed we’d extended last year, I was astounded to see how many of the weeds were, in fact, centipede grass! It didn’t look quite like the lush carpet in the yard, as it was created from long runners and had never been mowed. It had looked like weeds to me. Doggone if it wasn’t hard to pull up, though! I was thrilled every time I tugged on the “garden variety” weed, whose roots are shallow and small and come up easily enough. But boy was I aggravated to tug and pull and rip and growl because that sneaky centipede was deeply rooted!
I realized then that the centipede had likely burrowed there last year and had put down strong roots in the intervening time. Oh so now you want to grow there! Go figure! Not only were parts of it deeply rooted, it had also sent off shoots to other areas (under the mulch where I hadn’t known) and had succeeded in insinuating itself throughout that freshly fertilized area. We’d made it easy on the centipede when we added good soil, fertilizer, plants and mulch to the previously undesirable spot. Suddenly, this had become prime ground for the grass.
I was thinking then about how much the weeds and deeply entrenched grass reminds me of God’s work in my life. There are areas of freshly sprouted distorted or incomplete thinking (lies, really) that spring up on a regular basis in my life. These can be as simple as a friend who doesn’t return my call for days, or an unusually tense response from someone with whom I generally feel an ease. Insecure thoughts can move in quickly and my feelings will then begin to shift. I know that one of my most constant, deep-seated patterns of fear is this: do you still want me? So a situation can trigger that fear to jump up and begin to tug at my thoughts. I have to know what fears easily grab me, so I can recognize it. My feelings often seem justified; I can easily convince myself that my assumption is correct based on the evidence at hand. Over the years, God has taught me to name my fears as He reveals them and then I am responsible for their effect on me, not the other person. Often we wait for the circumstances to bring relief, but each time we do that, we only reinforce our sense of helplessness and our fear remains even more firmly lodged within us. However, every time I choose to name what fear is driving me (instead of blaming it on the other person’s actions), I am a little bit stronger. I take them to God and ask Him to work in these even now, which of course He is if I’m listening. I must choose to trust Him with this place and consciously DISAGREE with the fearful, anxious thoughts. He has taught me not to trust my fears. He’s taught me to disagree with the fear, to choose to believe the opposite, until and unless my fear is verified. It’s rarely right. I have relied on the Spirit’s discernment in countless matters in my daily (often moment-by-moment) life for a very long while now. There’s no way I could do the things He’s called me to do without it. I cannot know what I do not know and I cannot wisely respond to situations that are far beyond my realm of experience without the Spirit’s authentic guidance.
Yet in this matter of my fears, my feelings are almost always wrong. I choose to trust God in this process, and should my fears be realized, well guess who is going to get me through it? My God. He is thoroughly trustworthy. But how much energy have I wasted on fretting and worrying myself to death in the past? Too much, I’ll tell you.
Last year as I prepared to lead a retreat, I knew God was leading me to try to help the women begin to discern the enemy’s insinuations and better recognize the Spirit’s guidance. This meant they also had to begin to better know their own inner thoughts and feelings. All of us have unprotected, unfinished places within us that God is still working on and these are exactly where the enemy wants his darts to land. So to help the ladies better understand this concept, God gave me the phrase, “Name your darts.” In other words, there are certain fears, lies, suggestions that the enemy routinely throws our way; yours may be different from mine. But make no mistake about it, if you began to write down the kinds of thoughts, fears and feelings that steal your energy everyday, you would discover a pattern underneath them. His suggestions may vary, but the message underneath them will have remarkable consistency. It was there, in those ugly reviews of my day (and in responses I’d immediately regretted – red flag!), that I learned how the enemy taunted me.
Darts and weeds will forever plague me, this I know for certain. As I tend my soul with God each day, I fully expect God to continue to teach me, heal me and make me stronger. Not just so I’ll be a better person, although God is all about bringing life and more life. I want my life to somehow point others to Him, that He may be lifted up through the ridiculous absurdity that He could use someone like me. When people one day stand over my casket, the one thing I hope that some can say is, “I know God better because I knew Tammy.” Help me pull my weeds, Lord!