By Andrew Kreye
Something has occurred that I never thought was possible.
I discovered something nearly as frustrating as mosquitoes. Nay, even as frustrating!
“Lies!” I hear you cry. “Nothing is as loathsome as those creatures!”
To which I reply: clearly you have never spent an afternoon pulling crabgrass.
Sure, it feels good when you hear that deep earthy ‘pop’ and you pull the weed out with all its roots, but when you don’t get all the roots…
When all you hear is a light ‘snap’ because the weed has broken at its base. The feeling of mixed horror, shame, and anger that comes at that moment must be experienced to be understood.
However, while the process may have been painful at times, it was worth it to see the lawn weed-free and to know that people will be able to enjoy the soft grass.
What are the weeds in the lawn of your soul?
What prevents the Holy Spirit from lying comfortably in the garden of your heart?
“A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.” – Psalm 51:12
1. Where Are Your Roots?
“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
The roots of a plant are the source of its life. If a plant’s roots are in good soil, it allows the plant to grow and to flourish; but if a plant is in bad soil, it will never thrive and will eventually die.
So, what is the source of your life? Where do you get your energy? What in your life motivates you?
It’s very tempting to put worldly things as the source of our lives because worldly things are easy and predictable.
If you root your life in money, for example, so that everything you do is directed toward making money, it’s easy because then you only have to think about one goal: get money. And it’s predictable because you already know how to earn money, and that isn’t going to change.
The same goes for other worldly things, like fame or popularity. Of course there are a lot of details that go into these things, but they’re simple to base your life around.
However, it’s different to have God as the base of your life. We can’t understand Him, He isn’t predictable, and, as I’m sure you know, the life He calls us to isn’t easy.
So, we should just root our lives in worldly things, right?
There’s just one problem. (Well, more than one…)
These things (money, fame, popularity, pleasure) end in this life. As Catholic Christians, we know that there is so much more than this life.
2. Dig It Up!
“’The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land.’ (Sg 2:12) When the soul, like the solitary turtle-dove, retires and recollects itself in meditation to converse with God, then the flowers, that is, good desires, appear; then comes the time of pruning, that is, the correction of faults that are discovered in mental prayer.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori
So, you’ve rooted your life in God and made him the source of all you do. That’s amazing! Buuut it doesn’t end there.
You are more complex than one single flower that can be planted and left alone. You’re more like a garden full of flowers and trees and grass. Everything in that garden makes up who you are.
I’ve got some bad news. You aren’t perfect. None of us are. We all have weeds in our gardens. Weeds that try to steal from the good things in our lives and to choke out the beauty.
What do you do when there are weeds in a garden? Pull them out.
When you’re pulling weeds, though, you have to make sure that you pull out the roots, otherwise they’ll just grow back later.
This is also true with the sins and temptations that we struggle with in our lives. You may be able to avoid committing a particular sin for a while, but if you keep putting yourself in a place where you are being tempted, your strength will eventually fail.
If you want to change the outcome, you have to change the situation.
What is it that’s leading you to sin? Are you tired? Lonely? Stressed out? Bored? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are calling you on to virtue? What are you watching? What are you reading?
All of these things can influence us.
Get down to the root of the problem; otherwise, it will just come back again.
But remember, you don’t have to do all this work alone. God wants to help.
God doesn’t want to just save your soul and to leave the rest of your life untouched; He wants to renew every part of you.
Our God does not want to watch from a distance while others work in our lives; He wants to get dirty working in the garden of your heart. He loves us so much that he chose to be covered in dirt with us by taking on a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ.
He knows what it means to be human. He knows what it’s like to be tempted.
3. Water the Garden
“When we see a beautiful object, a beautiful garden, or a beautiful flower, let us think that there we behold a ray of the infinite beauty of God, who has given existence to that object.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori
There’s more to caring for a garden than removing the bad things. You also have to take care of the good things and to help them to grow.
We often get distracted by the things we do poorly or by the things we don’t like about ourselves, but there is so much good in you! In all of us!
Take some time to reflect on your good qualities and on the gifts that God has given you.
When you start taking time to notice and to be grateful for the good, then you will start to notice it even more. You’ll start to find a deeper sense of appreciation for the things around you, because you’ll be able to see their good qualities.
Even in things that irritate you.
Even in mosquitoes.
“So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” – Ephesians 4:17, 20-24