For whatever reason, I have turned into a poor sleeper the last few months. My brain has morphed into one of those Vegas strip neon signs…you know, the obnoxious ones where the top light flickers on, as if it lacks the stamina to remain lit for very long…then each neon letter wakes up one-by-one and when all the letters are fully ignited they blink obsessively as if they are screaming at you…then the bottom bulbs comes on with the same worn out enthusiasm as the top lights. And if your eyes and brain haven’t been over-stimulated enough, the entire sign starts flashing on and off as if it was having some sort of seizure. All you can do is look away to avoid the eyestrain and impending cornea damage. Those signs. That is my brain. When my head hits the pillow at night…it turns into one of those blaringly loud, insufferable, neon signs. Annoying.
The past few weeks I have laid awake contemplating weeds. Yes, you read that right…I said weeds…those ugly things that breed in your yard…the garden demons we dump chemicals on with the hope of exercising. Over the last 13 years, I have lived in five houses, in three different cities, in two different states and the weed growth in each of those yards has been of the miracle type. If the HOA gave awards for “Most Weeds in a Yard”, I would be accepting the honor on behalf of a grateful neighborhood. I’ve come to realize that one of my super powers is my unparalleled knack of growing all sorts of weeds in all sorts of climates. <curtsey>. For a long time, I blamed the soil, the previous homeowner, not enough rain, too much rain, a depleting ozone, the companies that sell weed killer (does that stuff really kill weeds?), el Niño, neighbor kids who were out to get me, etc. But recently, now that I am in house number five, I have begun to contemplate that maybe there are weeds in my yard because I have a brown thumb and suck at lawn care. Maybe. I haven’t fully adopted this rational for my weed infested yard. I am just kicking the idea around at the moment…no definitive conclusions have been drawn as of today…
Who thinks about weeds at 1am?!? I’ve tried various things to sleep at night…hot tea…hot bath…reading…I’ve even tried counting sheep, but I lost the little fur balls in my weeds. The only person who appreciates these lawn terrorists is my five year old. She calls them flowers and loves on them as if they were daisies or tulips. We’ve told her that these “flowers” are not flowers, but she rolls her eyes as if she is frustrated that she was placed in our family and is forced to deal with our low-level thought patterns. To her, the dandelions that make my skin itchy and my nose run are sunflowers. Those white ones that kids blow on and make wishes are delicate, special, horticultural treasures. She “oohs” and “aahs” over them and picks handfuls of them to create bouquets for me that she presents like $150 floral arrangements from 1-800-FLOWERS. Normally, I would chalk this up to being five, but I firmly believe that God talks to us through small children because they know more than we do.
So, I lay in bed at night contemplating weeds and wondering why on God’s green earth He felt the need to include these annoyances in the master landscaping plan. I could include mosquitoes, gnats, and flies in that thought as well, but that is for another late night pondering. For now, here is my theory: weeds are a fact of life…in our lawns…and in our lives. If our lives were spread out like a great big yard, we would all have weeds. We don’t get out of this life without weeds in our (lives) yards. There would be areas where just one or two weeds pop up…disappointments in life…moments that we gave in to Ben & Jerry…the unnecessary Whataburger stop…the dirty look given to the guy that cut us off this morning on the way to work…unkind words said to us or ones we said to someone else…etc. There would also be patches of weeds…a string of bad decisions, break-ups, hurts, our short-comings, financial hardships, marital difficulties, bad habits, etc. And there would be pastures of weeds…things like divorce, death, addictions, abuse, depression, medical issues, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, low self-esteem, anxiety, and on and on.
We try to eradicate our weeds with over-eating, over-spending, new relationships, control freak tendencies, becoming worry warriors, buying self-help books, trying new diets & miracle powders, google searching, and whatever else promises to liberate our yards (lives) of these weeds that won’t go away…but the fix is temporary. Some of us bulldoze over the weeds with stubborn will-power and speeding freight- train determination with the hope of ridding ourselves of the unpleasant things that have happened to us…but the weeds just grow back and sometimes they come back thicker and stronger. I have roto-tilled a large backyard and replanted grass only to get a yard full of weeds…literally (and figuratively). Take it from me, and the unfortunate souls who have bought houses that I have owned, weeds are hard to get rid of.
But what would happen if we stopped seeing our weeds as something that needed to be destroyed and forgotten and started seeing them as beautiful wisdom? What if our patches and pastures of yard demons served a purpose? Maybe we are supposed to see our weeds as the wisdom to know how to love one another. Those weeds that we want to dig up and remove from our lawns (lives) are what gives us the ability to love on someone who is walking a path we have already walked. “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” I Corinthians 1:4
If you’ve lost a child, you know how to love a grieving mother and father.
If you’ve gone through a divorce, you know how to love a person starting their life over.
If you’ve ever lost a job, been depressed, received bad news, made a dumb decision, experienced loneliness, been hurt, then you know how to love someone else wading through those choppy waters.
The how is everything.
When you know how to love someone, the love of God burns through the present circumstances to introduce a hurting human to a loving God who wants to wipe away tears and pour out love like a waterfall. Who better to show love to someone hurting than someone who gets it? If you have been lonely, then you know how the woman at work is feeling right now and how to love her. If you have made a bad financial decision, then you know what your next door neighbor is going through and just how he needs to be loved. Jesus told us to love God and love others. “…so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” Mark 12:30. I think we have to change our mind set about our weeds and see them through the eyes of a five year old. Maddy doesn’t see weeds…she sees beautiful flowers. She treats them like they are special…bundles them up…and gives them away as bouquets of love.
Because that is the point of our existence.
To give away love bouquets.
Love like God loves.
As best as we can.
The best we know how.
by Melissa Lloyd