Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weeding and Healing

This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately.  As I may or may not have mentioned on here, I had a pretty ... jolting ... 2011.  Some of the things that happened were bad ... really bad.  Some of the things were surprising, but not really good or bad.  Some of the things were good.  At any rate, it seemed like a lot to deal with in one little year.  (I know that some of my friends have been through much harder things this past year, and I can't compare my year with theirs.  This was just an unusual year for me, and these are my thoughts as I have been sorting through it.)

Our new house had some cute flowers planted out front when we first looked at it last fall.  By the time we moved in and then got settled, the flower beds had gotten out of control.  One weekend Steve and I headed out to try to re-claim that space.  We weeded, and weeded, and weeded!  I made some observations about weeding as I worked: 
  1. Removing weeds is much easier or harder depending on the condition of the soil.
  2. Removing weeds is easier when you can quickly and easily identify what is a weed.
  3. Removing weeds is easier when you stay on top of it, instead of neglecting it for a few months.
I hated weeding in Texas!  That hard clay soil would grab those weed roots and hang on.  In Washington, the soil is loose and moist and the weeds come out much easier.  God spoke to my soul and reminded me that my heart also grows weeds, and that if the "soil" of my heart stays soft to His voice those inevitable weeds will be easier to remove than if I harden my heart to my selfish desires.

How many times while I was weeding did I stop and stare at the flower beds trying to decide what I was looking at?  A lot!  The plants are different up here.  I don't know all of these plants.  There were a few that I pulled up because I could tell they were weeds even though I had never seen them before.  They were pervasive and invasive to the intended plants.  There were others that I couldn't decide about.   Was it a weed just starting?  Was it a plant not thriving because of the invading weeds?  If I could have easily distinguished between the intended plants and the weeds, the job would have been completed faster and more easily.  So, I just made some decisions.  I pulled up some plants that I didn't like the looks of.  I left some plants that I thought had promise.  Time will tell if I made the right decisions.  Our thoughts are like little seeds in our hearts and minds.  Are they seeds that will bear good and healthy fruit, or are they seeds that will bear choking weeds?  How can we tell the difference?  I believe that staying connected to God and His word makes this task either.  Christ said (as recorded in John 15) that if we abide in Him we will bear fruit.  Paul admonished the Philippians (in Philippians 4:8) "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

It seemed like the weeds were multiplying before my eyes!  I would look at my bucket full of pulled weeds and feel pretty good.  Then I would look at the flower bed and see the small percentage that had been weeded and the large amount of weeds left.  When I neglect my time with God, when I harden my heart to His gentle whisperings and let the weeds grow, it makes the time of weeding my heart that much more difficult.  I feel that much more discouraged when I finally admit my need and get to business.  I wish that I could convince myself that while staying on top of the weeding seems like a lot of monotonous day-to-day work, it is better than the alternative of letting the weeds overtake my heart.  Not only do I not want to live with a heart full of weeds, the weeding process is harder and longer after a season of neglect.  Another thing about removing lots of weeds is the marks it leaves on the flower bed.  Removing a weed or two doesn't disturb the soil too much.  The soil can be pretty easily smoothed back over without much visible damage.  Removing a massive amount of weeds, though, seems to leave the garden bed looking "pockmarked" in a way.  I know that it won't stay that way, and it made me start thinking about the healing that takes place in a heart - after the weeding.

I had been thinking about healing anyway, as I watched my index finger heal from its recent "run-in" with a rotary cutter.  (Did you like that phrasing?  It was more of a run-through, in reality.)  I could not help but be amazed at the miracle of our bodies as I watched and felt the healing process.  The rotary cutter sliced off the corner tip of my finger.  It's a straight surface, so it should have been a straight cut, but it didn't take long for the wound to look like it had a small pit or crater in the middle.  The cells had contracted in, as if they were surrounding the injured cells to protect them.  At first I didn't feel anything.  The bleeding was pretty minimal, too.  But as soon as I started trying to treat it (by running water over it to clean it out) it started burning like the dickens!  I did wonder for a few seconds if I was going to pass out, but I didn't.  The running water also started the blood flowing.  I wasn't sure how I was going to get it to stop.  Thanks to some advice from my good friend, Terri, I was able to get the blood flow to slow down and then stop.  The pain also lessened, and the healing began.  I would get these random shooting pains from the injury and I knew that my finger was healing.  The nerves were firing again.  Though it was painful and surprising, it was actually a good sign.  In the next few days I also learned how to take care of the wound.  The first couple of days I had to keep it covered.  Though I wanted to keep it protected (and not gross out others), the time came that I needed to uncover it and expose it to the air so that more healing could occur.  I was uncomfortable with this the first day, but I had learned that leaving it covered would only result in the healing scab coming off and a new one having to form.  Until the scab and the wound were left open, full healing could not occur.  Over the next few days the scab got smaller and the wound healed.  Eventually, the scab was gone and a much smaller scar was left.  In time, the skin under the scar even plumped back out.  When I first cut it, it was very obvious.  If you look at it now, you can hardly tell!  All the cool stories I had planned to tell about my misshapen finger aren't necessary.  You can't tell it's been injured unless I tell you and you look at it very closely (and compare it to my other index finger).  Not only is it not obvious to the eyes anymore, but I have regained full use of my finger.  It still feels a little different, but I can use it just like I did before.  I very rarely even think about it.  (I wanted to include pictures of the finger through the healing process, but decided to provide a link to pictures for those who were interested.  I don't think that they are that gross.)

When I do think about it, I think about the amazing healing that has occurred.  I also think about the healing that God is doing in my heart and life.  I have weeding wounds, and just plain old dealing-with-a-fallen-world wounds.  2011 has given me new wounds, but God is faithful to heal those wounds.  He doesn't ask me to pull out weeds just so there can be pretty mulch in the flower bed, but so that he can grow beautiful fruit and flowers in its place.  Yes, this past year has brought some weeding and some wounds, but God is faithful and I can see some flowers and fruit growing, too.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lots of Thoughts

So, my last blog post was vague on purpose.  It was a journaling of sorts of the process of coming to terms with my own wrong-doing.

Let's back up a little.  I tend to be a people-pleaser, and I want for people to like me.  I really don't like to be judged and found "wanting".  As a result of this, I tend to be "well-behaved".  As a result of that, I don't like to admit when I have done something wrong - even to myself.  I see this in my children (especially one of them), too, and I will admit that it drives me crazy!  He is never wrong.  If he says something wrong it is because you misunderstood him, or he misunderstood you.  If he misunderstood you, it's your fault for not being clear enough.  I could go on, but it just frustrates me to even write about it.  It is not fun to be around him when he gets like that.  I am sure that I was like that at some points as a child, too.  I hope that I have been civilized enough that I am not that annoying now.  I am trying to civilize him to reach the point of not being that annoying.  We have told him over and over that people make mistakes, and it is okay.  You just apologize, try to make it right, and go on.  I am usually okay at doing this myself, but not always.

The other day, I was facing that same struggle myself.  What I did wasn't that big of a deal.  As I said, nobody got hurt or was in danger of getting hurt.  I couldn't have gone to jail or anything like that.  And the point of the story isn't about what I did, it was about the struggle of my heart.  And I realized today that there is still a struggle going on in my heart over this little episode, only it is different from what I first thought.  Today I think that my real struggle is over the motive of my heart.  Am I worried about what people think of me, or am I worried about what people think of my God?  I want to be a good witness for Him, and I know that I fall short way too often.  When I do, am I grieved over how my actions reflect on Him, or what people will think of me?  I know what my heart and my attitude should be, and I am praying to be conformed to that every day.

Confession and Forgiveness

I did it, and I am not proud of it.  I did something I knew I shouldn't do, even if I had a  "good reason" for it and knew that it wouldn't hurt anyone else.  But others saw me, and I got caught.  Then I got mad at the person who caught me.  I tried to justify what I had done.  I struggled for a few moments.  And finally admitted to myself that I was wrong.  It was hard.  Now I am just embarrassed.  I can't really take away the impression that I made with the person who caught me and others who may have seen.  I can ask God for forgiveness - for what I did and for my attitude.  I can evaluate my bad decisions from earlier in the day that led me to justify this bad decision.  I can ask for strength to do better in the future.  And I can work on forgiving myself.