Green thumbs run in my family. So do dirty hands, muddy knees, and smudges of dirt across sunburned faces. 


I am the happiest when I am outside working in my flower gardens. While I prefer 72 degrees with a light breeze I have been known to spend hours out in the hundred degree Texas heat or even several hours with temps well below freezing and winds that even Winnie the Pooh would claim to be stronger than usual on a blustery day. 


My flowers bring me so much joy. But that joy comes with lots of work. Planting, pruning, fertilizing, watering, and weeding seem to be a never ending cycle. 


As much as I love to admire and adore my beautiful flowers, I am always amazed at weeds. Weeds can grow and even flourish with barely any soil or nourishment. They spring up in cracks of cement where just a sliver of dirt exists. They fight their way through rock piles to find the sunshine.  They grow strong and “bloom” in the hottest heat and they often last even after a fairly hard freeze.

Weeds don’t give up. They are hard to kill and hard to like (even those with flowers or the kind that offer you a wish as part of their growing cycle). 

I often equate weeds to the negatives in my life.  No matter how much I work at keeping my world blooming beautiful it never fails a weed will spring up right in the middle of all the prettiness of my Life’s Garden and right when I least expect it. 


Sometimes these proverbial weeds take root in my mind.  For example, I can be trying on jeans at a department store and, while several pair in my usual size fit just fine, I might slip on a pair that is quite a bit snug.  Instead of assuming it might be the brand that sizes things differently or perhaps I grabbed a more form fitting style, the Weed of Self Criticism finds that pea size spot of self-doubt and takes root.  Before I can wiggle out of the ill-fitting jeans and back into the original pair I wore into the store (forgetting all about the cute ones that DID fit just fine) that Weed of Self Criticism has said things like…


  • Wow fatty!  You sure have packed on the pounds.

  • No wonder you don’t date.  You look disgusting.

  • You are so obese I bet people are only nice to you because they feel sorry for you.

  • No matter what you do in life all people are ever going to notice or remember is how fat you are. 

  • Might as well go eat some more.  That’s all you are good at.


That Weed of Self Criticism is brutal.  All weeds are.  They don’t care about who or what they hurt in their process of growing.  They do whatever it takes to survive.  And for that Weed of Self Criticism to stay rooted in my brain it is going to have to bring out the big guns and hit me where it hurts.


And the sad news is I let the Self Criticism Weeds take root more times than I care to admit.  I am getting better at recognizing it earlier and taking the necessary steps to get rid of it, but usually not before I have left the store and let a few tears roll down my cheek.


The way I combat this Self Criticism Weed is I reach out to friends and family who love me regardless of what the tag in my jeans say.  I remind myself that I am more than a number on a scale.  And I search the Word of God to find scripture that supports the truth that God sees beyond appearances.  He sees the heart of us all.


Another weed that loves to grow in my Life’s Garden is the Weed of Self Doubt.  This little booger shoots up almost every time I am given the opportunity to do something outside my comfort zone.  It likes to find a crack in my self-confidence and it pushes its way to the surface with things like…


  • You are a terrible public speaker.  Your voice quivers every time you get in front of people.

  • You aren’t funny.  People laugh at you not with you.

  • You are so awkward.  You will totally bomb and then you will be too embarrassed to show your face in front of those people ever again.

  • No one cares what you think or have to say.

  • You aren’t smart enough to discuss this topic.  There are lots of other people who would do a way better job than you will do.

  • You’re too fat.  (The Weed of Self Doubt is in the same family as the Weed of Self Criticism.)


The Self Doubt Weed has caused me to say no to more things than I care to admit.  Thanks to it, I have also had the Weed of Regret.  Both these weeds’ roots run deep and they are a little harder for me to exterminate.  Again, I turn to those who love me unconditionally and are my biggest supporters to help me keep this weed from taking over my thoughts when opportunities arise.  I read about those great heroes of the Bible who also had doubts, but who God still used in great and mighty ways.  (Moses is one of my favorites!)  And then I remind myself that all the greats in this world have failed.  Failure is what made them great.  Without failure there is no growth.  So instead of fearing the failure, I try to expect it and embrace it (and sometimes I don’t fail that bad and sometimes not at all).


The worst weed of all is the Weed of Shame.  This weed has deep roots and thorny leaves.  Once the Shame Weed finds its way into my soul its roots spread out and search for any place to burrow deeper in to.  The Weed of Shame thrives when it can get me to believe statements like…


  • God doesn’t want a sinner like you.

  • God is sick and tired of you doing the same things over and over again and not learning a dang thing.

  • You are a hypocrite.

  • You aren’t worthy.

  • God hates people like you.

  • God won’t forgive you.


The Weed of Shame breaks my heart every time.  It doesn’t come up as often as the others, but in the darkest spots of my Life’s Garden it finds just enough room to take root.  This part of my Life’s Garden is the part I ignore most of the time.  It isn’t pretty anyway.  I don’t like people to see it and I never post pictures of it on Facebook.  This is the part of my personal garden where beauty struggles to grow.  Anything I try to plant and nurture seems to shrivel up and die.  So I stop tending to it and that is when the Weed of Shame starts to take over.  It grows quickly and before I know it its root system is starting to search out other areas of my Life’s Garden. 


Getting rid of the Weed of Shame has taken a lot of work, some professional counseling, and at times some professional medication.  These days I am very vigilant to watch that part of my garden and make sure no weeds of any kind start to take root.  But it is still a struggle.


All weeds are a struggle.  There a dozen or so more I could go into but we all have different “weeds” in our lives.  These are just the most common (and hurtful) to me and maybe to you too.  No matter how much I work to keep the weeds out, they still pop up from time to time.  But that’s part of gardening…and life…dealing with the weeds when you find them.  Because not dealing with them causes a whole slew of other issues. 


My garden at my house is lovely this time of year, but I bet if you looked closely you would find a weed or two.  My life right now is lovely as well, but I can assure you I have a few weeds trying to put down roots daily.  A beautiful flower garden takes work.  So does a beautiful life. 

Weeding in the Garden of Life
by Jill Montz

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