In the Weeds - Jeff Mathis

One of my duties at our house is to destroy the weeds that stand embarrassingly high on our property. I cannot say it strongly enough. I hate this chore.

Even my rueful confession causes me grief and shame, for I know that I should relish the opportunity to make our mountain home look less jungle-like. It’s not that I don’t like for our home to look tidy. On the contrary. I want our home to look prim and proper, and yet I feel at war with the insidious creeping thistle. By this time of the year, however, I am nearing the point of surrender in a battle that I cannot win.

You see, the weeds just keep coming. It is a vicious cycle. I mow the weeds down. They sprout up while I sleep. I dress like a bee keeper to protect myself from poison ivy and assault them with my weed eater. It is a violent practice, with the remnants splattering my sunglasses and being flung hither and yon. Even so, the mulched weeds scatter their seeds to fresh soil and new opportunities just to irritate me. Yes, I’ve tried poison. But even poison conspires to haunt the view from my porch, as the cadavers of weedy plants stand as brown sentinels in an otherwise field of green.

I cannot win. A killing frost is my only friend.

Here’s the truth of the matter: Weeds are a part of life. Just as weeds are aptly named with monikers like pigweed or thecommon ragwort, and the spotted knapweed, the weeds in our lives have names as well. Although not necessarily associated with tragedies and other calamities, the weeds in our lives are the irritations, frustrations and confounding circumstances that crop up with alarming regularity.

In life, we are often sidetracked by these irritations because we give them too much of our time and energy. The weeds that seem to capture too much of our attention may be that passive aggressive co-worker, or that tone-deaf comment on your prized Facebook post. In a day filled with bright sunshine and pleasant afternoon showers, we focus instead on that maddening idiosyncrasy of a mother-in-law or next door neighbor. We are irked by these weeds and want to eliminate them from our points of view.

The weeds in my life include technology that conspires to defeat me, individuals who are not reflective, and every Major League Baseball team that beats my Braves (that would be all of them).

I agree with you. These are small things in a world with immense challenges and problems. But that’s my point. You and I both know that we often give these weeds far too much sunshine. By focusing so much of our precious attention on these small (but admittedly significant) concerns, it siphons off energy from more significant things.

Let’s face it. We cannot always summon a killing frost. Perhaps there is another way to make peace with the weeds that creep up onto our paths.

It has been said that the best way to respond to these irritating, organic anathemas is to not go after them at all. Instead, it may be a better use of our time and energy to grow healthy grass. A healthy lawn is the anecdote for weedy invaders.

When we focus on walking humbly with God, our lawns—so to speak—become lush and green. We can walk barefoot with God because we have developed healthy disciplines of reading scripture, praying as Jesus taught us and practicing acts of selflessness and kindness. Worship with the Body of Christ, as well as personal times of devotion teach us how to manage our lives in good times and in bad. These Christ-centered practices create a healthy ecosystem where the occasional dandelion or deer tongue weed cannot take root.

Well, at least not for long.

Oh, and one more thing. Watch your step. We haven’t even begun to address what might be hiding in those high weeds.