A few months ago, my wife and I invested a good bit of money in having professionals come whip our front landscaping into shape.  They did a great job.  We’ve got all kinds of new flowers (don’t ask me what kind), new greenery, new mulch.  The house has really benefitted from the colorful “facelift.”  It looks pretty snazzy.  We are thankful for our nice home, and enjoy it very much.  We also didn’t want to be the eyesore of the neighborhood.  But we finally admitted we were never going to get the motivation to attack the project ourselves.  So we called in the pros – and are very pleased with our choice.

But now there are weeds.  How did this happen?!  I watched how deeply the husband and wife team dug up the old beds, cleared them out, and filled in fresh beautiful dirt.  The flowers and plants they put in place were weed-free.  So what happened?  Did the weed fairy come visit our house and plant the nasty little green monsters while we slept?  No, the reality of life is – weeds grow wherever there is dirt and water to be found.  This has been a constant on planet earth since, well, the Garden of Eden.  If I want to keep the ground around my home looking fresh and neat and well kept, I’ll have to either keep pulling weeds and trimming edges and cutting grass, or pay someone else to do it for me.  (For what it’s worth, I’m opting to do it myself, because I think it helps reconnect me to the rhythm and order of God’s creation.)

So today I began pulling weeds.  I donned my long sleeve gold Tigers shirt, clasped on the overalls, laced up my old pair of Timberlands, and dug my fingers into the moist, dark earth in front of my home.  I was quickly faced with a very big decision, one I had not anticipated.  What level of weeding was I going to perform?  A quick scan of the sixty feet or so of flower/shrub beds indicated somewhere in the neigborhood of a dozen big, nasty, “devil weeds.”  I don’t know what you call these things, but they are big and ugly and clearly love South Louisiana.  And I was really tempted to just attack them and call the job done.  But they were not alone.  They had less obvious, but more sinister friends.  Mid-level weeds that spread and hunker down.  And don’t get me started on all the clover.  And there was the grass from the yard that refuses to respect my boundaries.  What should I do?!!

I decided I really wanted to get our money’s worth out of the recent landscape job, so I started at one end and began to remove all unwanted greenery (and a little brownery) from my path.  Wow!!!  What a job!  This is a narrow strip of ground, and I really thought the whole project would take a half hour at most.  When I reached the path from our front door (the halfway mark) an hour later, I decided to stop for the night and finish tomorrow.  I may not have finished the weed pulling project yet, but I made some observations in the process that I believe are worth sharing:

I can do this job regularly and pull a few weeds at a time, or wait until there are weeds everywhere and it has become a major overhaul.  I can just pull the big ones and leave the beds looking okay, or I can pull out everything that doesn’t belong and leave it looking great.  I also noticed that where one large weed had popped up, other smaller weeds were often close at hand.  And even though I’m only halfway through with the job, I feel very satisfied and encouraged by the transformation my efforts brought to the first half of the beds.  So, why am I sharing all this “weed” business on my website?  Bottom line – our marriages are much like flower and shrub beds…

  1. Marriages begin with flowers and excitement, and everything looks and feels just right.  But even the strongest, healthiest couples with the best of foundations will eventually have “weeds” to pull.  A husband’s habits begin to really annoy.  A wife makes a big mistake.  Unexpected bills arrive.  In-laws apply pressure.  That great job doesn’t work out.  Something’s wrong with the car.  Weeds, weeds, weeds.
  2. In marriage, we can wait until the weeds grow into a big, threatening menace.  Or we can tend the garden of our relationships along the way, dealing with the weeds while they are still few and small and manageable.  When we put forth the effort to make little corrections along the way, we are much less likely to experience a hostile takeover in the soil of marriage.
  3. Similarly, we can just work on our really big, obvious marital problems – and have an okay marriage that will survive.  Or we can really open ourselves up to growth and maturity and self-development, and experience a truly refreshing marriage that provides security and joy and deep fulfillment.
  4. In marriage, when we let one problem take root and grow, it often leads to the growth of other problems sprouting up here and there around it.
  5. And folks, there are very few things in life as satisfying and rewarding as stepping back and appreciating a marriage which is green and flourishing and full of flowers and shade.  It is a great place of refuge and peace and enjoyment!

So, how is your garden?  Are you feeding and watering it?  Is it healthy and vibrant?  Do you have some weeds to pull?  And, by the way – in the landscape of marriage, we each (husband and wife) have our distinct flower/shrub beds.  And we can only effectively pull our own weeds, not our spouse’s.  But we sure can water and feed and nurture them both!  And it is so worth it.  Happy gardening.

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