I'm telling you this not to get you to come help out, too (although, if you or someone you know needs a lesson in manual labor, you know who to call...), but rather, I have some introspective thoughts to share about it (surprise, surprise - for those long-time readers/followers, out there - haha). I'm confident I'm not the first person to draw these parallels, and I know I won't be the last, but I don't know that I've seen/read an analogy like this in my own circles/studies, so that's why I thought I'd share these thoughts that keep surfacing as I think more about it all.
First, let me explain these weeds:
I pulled up a few baby oak and maple trees, a few stray blades of crabgrass, and a dandelion or two (though only in the flowerbeds), but the bulk of my time was spent pulling Bermudagrass. This stuff is simply insane. According to that website I just linked to, "it spreads by both above-ground stems known as stolons and below-ground stems called rhizomes." This means you can't just pull up the blade, get a couple inches of root, and call it a day. Rather, to be most effective, you must dig down and find the root the blade is connected to and try to follow/pull it up as far as you can in hopes of reaching the end and/or original root. The most satisfying results of these efforts are roots a few feet in length.
I realize some people grow this grass on purpose, so may not consider it a weed. After "letting it go" in our garden last year, though, it has established itself in a way that is not conducive to our otherwise weed-free Back to Eden gardening system. So, in an effort to eliminate it and not let it get out of control again, we've been trying to nip every glimpse of green we see in the bud and get as many of the already-established roots out of the garden area as we can. (Yes, we've gone around the edge and severed those coming in from the outside...and will likely do so again as time goes on. Yes, we could spray it, but we're trying to go chemical-free in this area, and also, trying to eliminate the root systems, altogether. If you have suggestions you think we could try within these parameters, we'd be open to them!)
Now for the introspective, spiritual parallels I've been drawing between pulling weeds and doing work on yourself/your soul/your mental health, presented in the form of some tips for both:
Eliminating the weeds allows other plants to thrive.
- We started some of the plants in our garden from plants and some from seeds. Both require space, nutrients, and moisture to live and grow. If we didn't rid the ground around them of the weeds, they would not be able to acquire the necessary things to live, or at least, to grow to their fullest potential.
I feel like this is fairly obvious, but allowing the "weeds" in your heart to grow will overpower and potentially kill the "fruitful plants." Whether it's practicing having positive thoughts, rather than negative ones, or perhaps working on assuming the best of people, rather than the worst, or maybe making healthy choices over more convenient ones - what comes naturally and "grows easiest" isn't always best for us. We must recognize and address these things.
It's going to be messy.
- I usually do this work bare-handed, but even when I wore gloves, I still got lots of dirt under my nails. (It was dark when I finished this the first time, so didn't get a good picture, but this gives you an idea...kinda.)
You can try to protect yourself from the residual "mess" that comes with soul-searching, counseling/therapy, hard conversations, etc., but you're not likely to come out completely "clean"/unscathed. Bringing things to the surface that would rather be thriving "underground" is not an easy job, but it can be so necessary and beneficial. The "dirt under your nails" that surfaces, as well, is nothing a little extra scrubbing can't fix.
You can't do it alone.
- At this time in my life, to be able to devote time to this task and be truly effective, I needed help. I couldn't devote the necessary time and attention to it when Jacob was with me, and it got dark too quickly for me to be able to do it only when he was in bed. In order to keep the weeds at bay, I really needed to get them all pulled up in a few day's time (between stormy days, really). So, help from others was a must. Like I mentioned earlier, this help came both in the form of weed-pulling and childcare while I did so.
When you're doing some "weeding" of your heart and soul, you'll likely need help. Whether it comes in the form of a book, a mental health professional, a trusted loved one, or a podcast - there are tools, people, and resources that can help you reach your goals much quicker than you could alone. The Lord is always on your side, as well, and though He can't watch the baby while you go to a session/take a walk/"pull the weeds," He's sure rooting for you and can/will provide in ways you might not even know you need.
- ...especially on the back of your neck.
I don't have a parallel for this one, but I guess if you're doing any self-reflection outside or taking a mental health day at the pool, it absolutely applies.
Track your progress and reward yourself.
|Day 1: One hour's worth.|
|Day 2: Three hours' worth.|
|Day ?...some(?) hours' worth.|
- I realize it's hard to know what you're seeing here, especially since I don't have any sort of "before" picture, but basically, it's just a bunch of dead roots. My "reward" is listed in today's favorites...☺
I don't really know how to best recommend you do this when you're working on yourself, but I think it's pretty subjective, anyway. Figure out how to measure/track your progress and don't be afraid to share it publicly. Celebrate (alone or with others) your victories - big and small. You're absolutely worth it.
You can't just cover them up and expect them to go away.
- The dead weeds pictured above are laying on top of some bags of leaves from this fall. We put the bags on the spots in the garden that were most grassy last year in hopes of killing off the plants. No such luck - the roots found their way out and up from under these and just kept growing.
You can try to bury memories, habits, etc., but most likely, they'll find a way to surface. In order to truly be your best self, you must address and tend to these things in your life/mind/heart.
- ...or isn't a weed in the area you're gardening, at least (for example, baby oak trees are considered weeds in our garden, but wouldn't be in a forest). I noticed something growing among the crabgrass and baby trees in the pot on our front step, so I transplanted it to the middle of the pot and decided to see what came of it. As it turns out, it's a petunia! These flowers are usually considered annuals (you have to replant them each year), but apparently, this one decided to be a perennial - what a lovely surprise!
There may be a trait you don't love about yourself, a memory/experience you'd rather forget, or perhaps, an incident you regret. Often, it's good to purge these "weeds," but sometimes, they may actually be valuable and "grow" into something beautiful. Closely inspect these things. Be careful not to rid yourself of something that may enhance your life and future experiences. Be on the lookout for beauty among the "weeds."
I hope this spoke to you, in one way or another. Please know I am not condemning anyone or commanding you do any of this. I'm simply explaining some parallels that made themselves extremely clear to me during this process. Would love to hear any others you think of!
Looking forward to garden-fresh produce,
|Tiramisu Cone from one of the vendors at Festa Italiana.|
I call it "Walking Tiramisu," and it was as good as it looks!
|Hard to capture, but Jacob always shares the things he "cooks/bakes" with the animals, in addition to the humans.|
He does a great job making sure EVERYone takes turns and gets "bites," and I just think it's precious.