Deep Breaths in and out! Here goes:
After a two week vacation at the beach, I headed out early that first Saturday morning back home, to get the mail. It was pretty full, but I noticed an official looking document right away. I took a few moments to read it and found out that the post office was giving us notice that our shrubs and trees around the mailbox were not appropriate, and that they interfered with the mail delivery. At another time in my life I might have just tossed that note and laughed, you see understanding authority hasn't always been my strong suit. But I took a minute and decided I had been putting off dealing with those bushes and shrubs and wild trees for some time now; and truthfully they were killing my clematis that I wanted growing there. I recognized it as a problem and decided heck, I'd been on vacation long enough so it was my day to tackle this project. It was the middle of July and I knew any yard work is better done predawn here in GA. The heat can only be described as "knock you down" so when the temps rise above 98' F with the humidity added on top, it will make you swoon. I gathered my tools, a shovel and clippers and asked if anyone (my husband mainly) wanted to come help.
He was worn out from going out with his buddy the night before, so he stayed in where it was cool with the baby. So I got my attitude straight; and said to myself "you are Wonder Woman after all let's do this". By the time I got out there it was already stifling hot. I thought a deep sweat might be good for me so, I began anyway. I started with the clippers, trimming all the tall trees back and cutting those shrubs down to size. I remembered doing this very thing right before I had Jase, he was born in July, 3 years ago and I thought "wow, was that the last time I tackled these shrubs? No wonder they are so big now." After I'd clipped them back, I tried to pull them up, to see if all the recent rain might have made the roots easy to just pull, they did not budge, these were deep and strong roots. So I got out the shovel. I was in flip flops, but determined not to go back in until I was done. I went to digging, around the roots, on the roots, not making a lot of progress but thinking if I kept at it I'd get it done.
I kept wishing for those professionals to return, the guys who were here for weeks digging new gas lines, with their big "Snorts"as Jase calls them, would've had this done in minutes.
It was hot humid and sticky with no ocean breeze to cool me off like I'd had the previous two weeks in NC. I dug at the cold hard clay steadily removing unwanted plants and roots, and still two roots wouldn't budge. I don't know how long I was out there before I decided it was just too much. The roots had taken hold and my little frame was fighting a battle I couldn't win. Finally, tired and sweaty I gave up and came in to ask for help and get some water. My husband sent our 17 year old son, Sean out to help me, I didn't even make it back out in time to oversee what he was doing. When I did go back out to see if he'd dug up the roots completely like I wanted, I was not surprised that he hadn't. I expected as much, and frustratedly began again to try and rip those roots out. Cussing and fussing at those damn roots digging and crying, hot angry tears falling down my cheeks, mixing with sweat and red GA clay. What a hot mess... But, while I was physically digging this gardening metaphor came to me lightening fast.
Our troubles, hurts, hang ups, and habits are like those shrubs and trees. God is the mailman in this story and He sends us notes in the mail (The Bible). So, if we will take the time to read it, it will give us directions to follow to keep the mail flowing properly (or life flowing well) So first you gotta read the note. Then you have to get the proper tools (therapy in some cases) to dig out the roots. If you can't afford therapy you have to get your own hands dirty. Not everyone can or even wants a therapist helping through some of the troubles we face. Some of us have had therapists before and maybe like me, have learned an awful lot, it's just a matter of putting it into practice over 20 years of learning to heal. My first set of tools were not enough. I got down on my hands and knees and dug at those roots myself this time. I have had alot of experience fighting some of my demons, and some are very deep wounds. You can dig around it, you can use your clippers your shovel but sometimes it's too much to bare alone, the heat, the sweat and the pain; it's all too much, so you ask for help from friends and family, but most often like that day they can only help so much. Sean helped me, but he didn't dig the roots completely out. I knew in my head if I didn't get them all the way out that they'd pop back up again. I wanted to be done with them that day! Just as when you are dealing with roots in your own heart, your friends and family can't be expected to get that root out for you either. They help, and especially for a person like me who needs her friends support, they can help you along your healing journey, but it's not even their job to do it.
So just as in my healing life I had to go back out again, after having some water, putting on my sun hat, grabbing a different shovel and my gloves, I had to go back to digging on my own. I got even dirtier this time, on my knees digging with my hands covered by my gloves to shield me from getting bitten by ants in the process. I felt hot, and angry and even sad, but I didn't run from it this time. I stayed right there feeling that earth knowing it was filled with bugs, I kept my hands covered with gloves so the bugs couldn't get me -maybe bugs are fears- (this is a new thought today) I hate most bugs and for sure I hate fear, fear of failure, fear of getting hurt again, fear of doing and saying the wrong thing, shame and fear, yea those are the bugs you need to protect yourself from during the healing process. So you dig,(write, bead, create something, coloring, go fishing, or whatever your healing activity looks like) until you find the bottom of that root, get back up use your shovel again and even fall on your ass a time or two (I literally fell on my ass trying to dig up those stupid roots by the mailbox), but still you don't give up, that was only a small bump. You get back up wipe your ass off and go to digging again. All the while telling God you hear Him loud and clear. You hear His voice speaking through the physical act of getting to the physical roots in the ground- you seek healing with His help - only to finally realize - one of those roots is too old and maybe today is not the day to dig that one up. Maybe today to keep the mail box standing(maybe you or your family are the mailbox); you let it go, realizing it will spring up again and you will have to face it again in a few months because it is so strong and so deep and so old. Maybe today you just needed to start again.
It certainly looks like I did a lot of work and it certainly looks better from the average view. But I remember that the root is there, I covered it up and only God and I really know it is there. Only God and I can truly dig that one up. Instead of constantly worrying over that root, as I have been known to do, this time I give it to God, again and again letting it go, giving it back to Him. Asking for His help when it springs up anew. Asking Him for His will this time, getting ready, and preparing with more time with Him. So maybe when it does come back I can truly cut that sucker out completely, with better tools next time. Or perhaps, know - that one root is my thorn like Paul talks about, to keep me usable and soft for God's voice and His purposes. Perhaps, to keep me awake and aware no longer blinded or numb but sure that it's there and with out God's help realize that certain things will not change; with out a miracle from God, that thorn will always be with me to keep me sensitive, kind and hopeful that God's GRACE is indeed sufficient for every last root problem we face.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
II Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV
(Notes: the images are all mine taken on my iPhone; I'd like to say all the thoughts are entirely mine, but like all art I feel I must give credit to a couple of my favorite authors who've helped me along this healing journey over the last several years: Ann Voskamp, Glennon Doyle, and also Life's Healing Choices by John Baker; I highly recommend any of their writings.)
Can you identify with this metaphor in anyway? If so I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Thanks so much if you made it all the way through!!!