Confession: I do NOT have a green thumb. I have never enjoyed gardening or planting or growing things, despite the fact that my grandmother has tried over and over again to instill that love in me. The problem lies mostly in the fact that I’m your classic allergy-skin disorder-asthma kid. The yard is nothing but a dangerous, itching, wheezing zone of torture for me.

So when Sam and I moved into our beautiful little home, there was the understanding that we would hire people to take care of our yard. Neither of us had the time (or the giftedness) to maintain it on our own. And in the winter, you would think that yard maintenance would be a low priority because nothing really grows. NOT THE CASE IN TEXAS. Our yard is now half-dead, half-alive with purple-flowered weeds blooming in overwhelming patches. We’ve lost FOUR trees in the last two years because the sprinkler system broke and was never fixed during some of the hottest summers on record. (NOTE: Not our responsibility as renters, but it FEELS like our fault.) We’ve somehow held on to the rosebush that occasionally blooms with BEAUTIFUL hot pink roses—that then get ravaged by naughty neighborhood kids. Too many important plants are dying while the weeds are flourishing.

My yard depresses me.

I pull around the corner of my neighborhood and there is my house. My pretty house, full of life and comfort and warmth and memories. And I HATE the way the outside of it looks. The patches of weeds taunt me as I drive past, matching my stare of hatred, like: “What’re you gonna do? We’ve won here.” It feels ugly. Out of control. Depressing. How abhorrent it is to me to see so much ugliness choke up so much life.

But perhaps the REAL confession here is that the current state of my yard reminds me of the current state of my LIFE.

There are “weeds” in my life that are trying to choke me. Some of them are people who disguise themselves as friends, but who I simply don’t (or can’t) trust. Some of them are past hurts that seem to keep throwing themselves back in my face. Some of the weeds are future changes and responsibilities and pressures that are growing way too fast around me. But some are just my own dark thoughts and fears that I can’t escape on dark days. Most of the time, I can quickly identify “weeds” growing in different areas of my life—perhaps like the beginning patches that grow around the garden—and I pull them up or cut them out before they grow too powerful. Surrounding myself with truth and love can slash right through those lying, conniving weeds. But sometimes, they creep up on me. I’m too busy to notice. Or I trust too easily that time and neglect will make those weeds just die off on their own. Meanwhile, they’re growing stronger and spreading their poisonous seeds everywhere. And the next thing I know… I’ve lost four life-giving trees and the very essence of me feels like it’s dying.

It happened in my yard. And I think it has happened in my life. I am not kidding when I say here that I will pull up to my house and my heart will start pounding at the sight of my yard. I have these radical moments where I just want to rip across the yard, screaming and furiously yanking out weeds until I’m blue in the face with an asthma attack and covered in hives. How much of that is really because of the physical appearance of my yard and how much of it is a reaction to my own soul? I can’t tell you for sure…

But I know that something has to change. Ripping up the “weeds” in my life is going to cause some discomfort—even some pain. It might create holes or gaps that will need to be replanted and nourished. It might look ugly for a while. But the alternative is to choke up and die. And it’s just not in me to live like that.

My yard needs some help. And I need some help. I need a Gardener to help prune me and find the life-giving parts of me that need some nourishment, while patiently sweeping out the ugliness. And I need friends—REAL friends—to be like little yard workers and just kind of look out for my growth…help me keep the weeds away.

 In the words of Jesus…

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-5)

 Have you ever felt choked by “weeds” in life? What are they and how do you deal with it? It would be nice to know I’m not alone in this feeling.