Spring is now in full swing, and the trees are full while the new plants are beginning to grow. The very first flowers are just starting to bloom, and gardeners and farmers are beginning to plant their seasonal flowers and vegetables in anticipation of a crop. Just like a well-tended vegetable patch or flower garden provides beauty and nourishment, a well-tended thought life provides many benefits. There are so many metaphors and sayings about our mental and emotional health that reference plants and gardens but today I wanted to concentrate on a new favorite, ‘you can either plant seeds or grow weeds”. Our mind is very fertile and rich soil and should be tended just like a productive garden.
When you have a good patch of ground that isn’t cared for or maintained what grows in it? Weeds! Open spaces with good soil beg to be filled with life and the same is true in our minds. When we have open space in our minds, we tend to grow weeds. In our metaphor weeds can be negative thinking about ourselves, others, ingratitude, anxiety, worry, fear, or any type of unhealthy thinking patterns. If we are Christians, we are specifically called to monitor our thought lives and take them captive and turn them into obedience to Christ (2 Colossians 10:5). We can’t control if weeds come sprouting up from the soil, or if their seeds drift into our garden but we are responsible once we notice their presence. We can’t prevent ourselves from having negative or unhealthy thoughts but, once they’ve sprouted, we are tasked with removing them.
Pulling weeds is hard work. Sometimes it’s tedious, thankless and feels like it’s never ending. The same is true in our thoughts when we put in the work to pull out and destroy the untrue, negative, lies, anxiety, or any unhealthy thinking. Once those weeds are removed you have to plant a seed. Pulling weeds, but leaving the ground empty, will only result in weeds growing back again to fill in the empty space. Once you identify and “pull” the weed drop in a seed or healthy thought. In practical terms this would look like:
Unhealthy thought (weed): “I don’t measure up to them. I’m not good enough.”
Healthier thought (seed): “I know I’m not perfect but comparing is not helpful to me. I’m working on my goals on the things I care about”.
Even if we aren’t always able to identify the healthy thought, we have guidance from Philippians about what things to think about “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.” (Phil 4:8 NIV).
After pulling weeds and planting seeds the final step is to be patient until the things you plant grow to maturity. The best part about planting a garden and caring for it is to harvest the fruit of your efforts. Patience and diligence are the keys to assuring a successful crop whether those are new, healthy thoughts, or veggies. Don’t give up tending your mental garden while you wait for a crop because the reward is worth the effort. Keep up the good work of pulling weeds because when your garden is mature there is no more space for the weeds to grow. Those that may pop up soon find there is no space in the healthy thriving garden you’ve cultivated.
As you enjoy the return of summer and the beauty that begins to come forward in late spring think of your own mental landscape. Do you have any weeds to pull? Make sure to carefully tend your thought garden and grow beautiful seeds that yield a bountiful harvest of peace.