We strolled through the neighborhood, he in his bike helmet, me not. Chattering away, he admired the signs of spring–green grass, flowers, trees leaving out, and a weed.
It stood high in the ditch at the end of our street, proud and purple and almost as tall as my 8-year-old son. The multiple buds bloomed right in front of him as he commented on its beauty.
It’s a weed, I said. I hated to tell him.
A weed! But it’s so pretty, how could it be a weed? He exclaimed with a stricken, surprised look washing over his face.
You can tell by the leaves, how fast it grows, and the strange spiky leaves. It will also come up out of the ground quickly when you pull it. It is tall, but not well rooted.
The look on his face saddened me. He’d been showing me something beautiful. Maybe he felt foolish for admiring a weed. Maybe he was just surprised, but I struggled wondering if I needed to point out that the flower was not a weed.
Days passed since this encounter with the flower that was really a weed. I remembered it this week as I ambled back from a morning walk and discovered three tall weeds about to bloom in our flower beds.
Grabbing the gloves, I went to pull them and they came out so easily I was surprised. Their blooms were set to burst numerous flowers while my roses, the real flowers, are struggling.
What makes a weed a weed? I thought. By definition, it is a plant that is unwanted or one that is invasive, blocking out cultivated plants. Usually fast growing.
So, it’s just an unwanted, fast growing plant? Makes me feel a little sad for the weed to be so judged! The purple weed was kind of pretty, except when I remember the spiky, ugly leaves and how they overtake a flower bed or lawn. Being untrained, I often don’t recognize them until they are obviously not what I want growing in my lawn.
Its much the same with spiritual weeds in my own life. At first its hard to tell what they are, especially if I am not reading my Bible or practicing confession in my daily life. Something unwanted starts growing and I don’t notice until its big and really needing to be pulled!
The weeds can look pretty, I can even feel sorry for them because they don’t measure up. I can nurse them in pity, but they choke out the good things, the cultivated garden I want my life to be spiritually.
The weeds were mowed down a few weeks later by the neighborhood lawn care crew. They are not gone, just mowed down for a while until the time it takes them to grow back.
The struggle is real and constant. Growing a cultivated garden takes more work.
But, I think I’m going to enjoy my roses a bit more than the weeds that try to choke them out.