Weeding Through Grace
A wise man once said….
“Let the weeds and wheat grow together until harvest”
….when telling a story about farm workers who asked their boss if they should pull out the weeds that were growing in his young wheat field.
Week 23 has me pulling out a proverbial ‘weed-whacker’, ready to mow down anything that remotely resembles a weed, not exactly in keeping with the wisdom quoted above, but an honest look at how my seeds of Grace have sprouted this week. Graciousness with US went a bit bonkers!
Many times in the last 20 years, I have undertaken planting seeds in actual dirt. I carefully line them up to form a singular row….to ease their detection and improve their ascetic appeal, which maximizes my low level gardening skills….only to end up wondering if a friend or foe be growing. Perhaps if I had been out of my childhood tree-top more, and down at ground level working by mum’s side, I would have absorbed some ability to distinguish a delicate sprout from a wild weed.
If I had preserved a gardening tool from the old farm, I would have happily used it as an icon this week….however, since I am pretty good at imagining things, I am envisioning mum teaching me about new budding plants. She might say….everything starts green and leafy with potential to be something, but some sprouts are natural givers….and others, just as naturally, are takers.
A perfect setup for relaying my week. Graciousness has been in an epic battle of giving and taking, remaining unresolved even as I write. There goes any chance of a surprise ending this time. No twist here. My story is still unravelling. But here is what I know so far….
Last week, I cautioned myself to be rooted and still, to endure any rising or subsiding storm blasts, and I was truly able to do so….about 50% of the time. That means something else happened for an equal majority of my week. I will call it stubbornness. There may be another, more accurate, but less amicable way of describing my demeanor, but I shall stay with a positive framing of it for now.
Stubbornness can appear very rooted and silent, which may be why it was easy to equally interchange what was actually going on….but as I pause to reflect, I can see threads of me graciously holding strong while windy rains pelted my face, interwoven with strings of stubborn resistance, where I ignore anything hurtful, avoid annoying situations, to the point of almost retreating entirely, unable to engage at all. From a certain angle, it all looks exactly the same….grace threads and stubborn strings, both snarled up together, each being unrecognizable in their co-existing state.
But my intention was to plant seeds of Grace….and grow more of it, not to figure out how to co-exist with Grace’s nemisis characteristics.
One of my historical strategies for creating a bit more grace into my interactions, is through something I call ‘the gimme’. ‘The gimme’ is for times I would not willingly do something for another person, even though I might have easily done so regularly in the past. Usually, this is reserved for times I am simply in a poor, nothing to give, kind of mood….or am tired, wanting only to relax, too lazy to exert any energy….or have said yes to everyone else in the world, and now my family is asking, and I would be a terrible person to say no, so I reach for a ‘gimme’.
Gimme’s also apply to moments when people have clearly said or done an uncharacteristic thing and I have time to ponder what reaction to give. Usually, it results in sliding off my reaction scale into emotional oblivion. These gimme’s are tougher to deliver because an emotional charge is typically present and needing to be managed, in order for the gimme to succeed. My particular temperament defaults to an ‘engage/rage’ model of reaction, which works in some of my professional contexts as a protective energy, but in my personal life, it becomes a barrier to maintaining close relationships….reason enough to conquer true Graciousness….not just hand out gimme’s, which come at a cost….
Temporarily, gimme’s have a place in calming my mind….settling my spirit. However, they also accumulate imprints of unfinished business, buried deep among files hoarded in my core. Seems as though I tuck away, hang onto and hide more than just stuff….I hoard negative interactions. If I go to that place, that file room, that dark closet of unforgiven, unforgotten, unresolved moments….Grace is eerily absent.
Yes, this is where I am heading, to a place that haunts with unsettling dreams and unexplained emotional upsets. A place I like to forget exists, so only acknowledge my surface level conditions. On the surface, I can gimme, gimme, gimme, pat myself on the back, and carry on as though it should not be any other way. But I know better. I remember an old children’s rhyme about gimme’s and how they never get.
This is how I feel….I am not getting it….
I see green, sprouting plants that could be weeds or wheat and I am urged into a decision….
Sometimes, I start pulling them all up, afraid of any noxious or nasty evidence of seeds I have sown, ripping out many helpful and potentially nourishing wheat plants as I go. This leaves me very little to harvest, most of the wheat tossed out with unwelcome weeds.
Sometimes, I leave it all, unsure of what to pull out, paralyzed by not wanting to do the wrong thing, until I can be certain of what I should be keeping or tossing. This can end in very poor quality of wheat, choked out of necessary sun, water stolen by neighboring tares and thistles. This wheat has not grown to its potential, near comrades like these.
So, what of the sage advice I shared earlier, letting it all grow up together until harvest, when the farmer/gardener can distinguish between what is kept and what is not?
It is a simple identity solution. All along, I believed myself to be the gardener of my story, the one who needed discretion in dividing what was useful, and what was not….what to pull out and what to leave. This is why it felt like I was not getting it. I will not be deciding what goes and what stays….I do not have to separate the good from bad….I can be okay with dandelions growing up alongside my wheatlings, because….
I am not the gardener.
I am a worker who asks for wisdom from the gardener, who says to “let it all grow”. It is not my job to determine what, or who, is right or wrong, good or bad, toxic or healthy, I am only to tend to growth.
If weeds be deeply rooted in dark abysses of my soul, I am responsible for seeing them, sensing their presence, and recognizing I am not able to rip them all out, without taking other healthy rooted plants along with them. Gimme’s will not be necessary if I can begin to accept this core condition, this entangled root system that is sprouting above my surface into actions and words.
Separating my best from my worst will happen at harvest time, a time I do not know or see, but must trust is coming. I will be surrounded by givers and takers, yet all belong in the garden, some with purpose undiscovered. I have been given simple instructions….grow with….despite….alongside….amongst my weeds.