Tending My Garden, Positive Vibes Only
God’s been working on me a lot in the area of my mind over the last couple of years. Things like controlling what I say, taking captive my thoughts, and being all around more positive. Rather than think it is taking years because I am a slow learner (which at times is true haha) I’d like to think that means because He thinks it’s really important that I take my time with Him to get it right. So at times when I think I’ve got everything under control, He reminds me what I need to know again.
What does that have to do with tending my garden you ask? EVERYTHING! There are so many wonderful analogies in reference to a garden and how it relates to life, God and the Bible. Probably so much one could get a doctorate trying to study and explain! For me, as spring rolled around it was time to tend my garden and as I did God reminded me how this was a picture of my thought life right now.
A few years ago when my husband and I moved into our home the front and back gardens were disastrous. They were clearly not tended and plain ugly. So we did a lot of work to remove old and dead trees, shrubs, weeds and old dirt. We picked new bushes with vibrant colors, top soil, and mulch. Finally, the result was much prettier and very rewarding. We did the front and then the back all in the same day (they’re not very big). It was a lot of work, we were proud of the result and we were physically exhausted. We were also excited to see how the garden would grow over the next couple of years.
Well, the following year, the front garden looked decent. However, one of our azalea bushes didn’t flower, it only had it leaves. The other two bushes grew a little, and we replaced some of the flowers for ones we thought we might like better. The back garden didn’t make it. We picked flower bushes that didn’t do well in lots of direct sunlight. So we did a little more research and found that a certain rose bush in our part of the country could thrive in that type of environment. It would grow and produce roses which is great because I love the pop of color.
That year we also strung lights in the back yard. We had a group of friends over at night and with the stringed lights and roses, it was a little romantic oasis for me. I loved it. However, it cost us a lot of money to plant the previous bushes that all died. And then purchase another group of rose bushes the following year. As newlyweds, we were trying to be wise with our finances as we’re really establishing ourselves and preparing for all the great expenses of life and so we don’t want to waste dollars unnecessarily. (A whole other topic for another day!)
We also decided that the front needed a little something else. We moved the azalea bush down the garden to a rather empty location in the garden, and in its place we put a rose tree. (Those roses are low maintenance and really reliable to provide beauty!) The move worked for the azalea tree as it now flowers once each spring. But no matter what was planted in our garden, each year from spring to fall we regularly needed to weed our gardens, especially after bouts of rainfall. Those pesky weeds just sprout up so quickly and so green.
If you’ve heard the garden analogies before, you may already know where I’m going with this story. My mind had become like the untended and uncared for garden. I didn’t think of my mind as a garden that needed tending. So it didn’t get attention. I didn’t know how ugly and unkempt my mind became. I did, at times, notice the fruit of it, mostly rotten fruit. But I thought, that is just how I am. I was negative, cynical, “a realist”, and I didn’t smile much. I overall existed, went through the motions of life and wondered about my purpose and thought I was more amazing than I should have, and I didn’t like many people (how incredibly friendly!)
When I finally got back to going to church regularly, God showed me a lot of things. (One for instance, how much He values all the diverse and beautiful people He created.) Through the years via the Bible, Pastors, friends, my relationship with God, books, and my husband, I learned a lot. And it was brought to my attention that I do have control over my mind, that I can take captive my thoughts, and in fact it was important to do so. When I realized that it was true I finally noticed how overgrown the weeds were, how all the overgrowth killed anything that once was vibrant and life giving.
At first, the sight of the garden seemed daunting. How was I going to tend a garden like mine, alone? It needed so much work. But God gave me the tools all around me to have help. I didn’t have to do it alone. But He did also teach me, I can’t always rely on the help. I am responsible for my own garden. And I am no green thumb. So it takes work!
It also takes time! I planted many small inexpensive bushes. They were less expensive because they were small! Which means they’ll take years to grow into the size that I envisioned our garden to look like. Parts of tending to my thought life took a day. I made progress! But my thought life didn’t become a beautiful and bountiful garden overnight. It is still a work in progress (but a much prettier work in progress!)
Many times I walk outside and see that weeds are growing in my garden. Not just next to my bushes, but underneath them. I have to really get in there and look to make sure I’ve gotten all of the weeds. The bigger the weeds are, the deeper the roots. Some are easy to pull out. Some are tougher. Some break and you have to wait for the weed to sprout up again to try to pull it out again.
The truth is that you don’t have to ask for the weeds to grow, they just do. And that is the same with our mind, negative and toxic thoughts just sprout up. But it is really important that we don’t just ignore them. If we pluck them right away, they haven’t had time to take root. If we ignore it, if we let it grow they will take root. Over time, if we ignore the weeds long enough they could overtake and ruin our beautiful gardens.
There is so much more gold in this than I can explain today, but I suspect it’ll be a topic worth revisiting. If I can leave you with once piece of encouragement it is this: your mind and thought life is important, it is possible to tend to, and you can make it incredibly beautiful! I can see it transforming now!