One year ago, I became a gardener.
Here’s the thing about me: when I start to become obsessed with something, I give my whole life to it. I vow to love this thing more than any other thing for an eternity. I will devote my whole being to said-thing for approximately two months until the next best thing shows up to steal my attention. This is just the way I am wired. In 27 years I’ve been unable to change it.
So I dove head first into gardening. It was love at first seed. I bought every plant possible. I got myself a watering can and some rain boots. I even created an Instagram account for my baby plants. I spoke to the veggies like some sort of Kale Whisperer. I debated a whole new blog on gardening alone. My life as a solo, single green-thumbed gardener. It was going to be beautiful.
But you want to know what happened to the garden three months after I planted it? It died a slow, miserable and inhumane death. I murdered my own garden.
It made no sense to me at first how it even managed to happen. I watered the thing regularly. I bought a gardening hat. I went out to talk to the kale in the morning. But then I let a few days slip by… and then a few days more… And, before I knew it, the peppers were wilting and the lavender was shriveling up. My little garden was dying and I felt helpless to save it.
A few nights after admitting defeat to my green-less thumb, I was at a birthday party for my neighbor Rachel. Her husband offered to take me outside and show me his garden.
“How is yours going,” he asked me.
“Not so well,” I answered.
“How did you figure?”
“You haven’t posted a picture of it in a while,” he smirked at me as he unrolled the hose from the side of the house.
“I just don’t know how to take care of it,” I told him. “Your garden is so much cleaner than mine.” I surveyed his garden as he began hosing down the plants.
“You have to weed the garden,” he told me, as if he already knew the issue at hand.
I didn’t even know what of my own plants were considered weeds and what were actually flowers or vines or whatever garden things there are.
“If you don’t, the weeds that grow will literally steal nutrients from your plants. Your plants can’t grow because weeds are taking what they need from them.”
I thought about the tiny jungle of weeds sitting in my backyard and how they were strangling the life out of my little garden children without me even realizing it.
“You think they are harmless,” he continued. “Until you realize your plants could have so much more life, and be much healthier, if you just took the time to uproot the weeds.”
“And this is why I am a writer, not a gardener,” I said.
“Yea,” he said. “I know you’re not going to hear another word I say after this. You’re going to write a blog post about me. It’s okay.”
My neighbor is right. I barely listened to a thing he said about the garden from that point forward. I was too busy thinking about the weeds.
I got so used to the weeds in my garden, sprawling and growing, that I never thought to pluck them. They looked like plants to me.
My little garden suffered all because I neglected to put some gloves on and ask myself the simple question, “What here is a weed and what here is a plant? Which of these things belongs? Which of these things have never belonged?”
What stands in the way of loving yourself– a lot of the time– is the lies you tell yourself. You tell yourself a lot of lies, A. You whisper them in sweet voices and yell them in loud tones. You whisper lies so frequently that eventually you can’t tell the difference between a lie and a truth. They start to look the same. Your brain lounges back in the comfort of lies.
Just like the weeds, I never thought to uproot the lies after they’d dug themselves deep enough into my brain. The lies became crutches. They slowly and sneakily covered up and smothered what truly mattered.
What you feed grows. If you are feeding the lies more than you are feeding yourself truth, the lies are winning and growing bigger.
The lies you are putting up with right now– the things you tell yourself on repeat that you think are harmless or small– are legitimately sucking the life out of you. You are tolerating lies and they are making you grow smaller and smaller.
You aren’t winning. The world isn’t winning. It’s just that sad and true.
A, you are the sole decision maker when it comes to whether you are going to stand around and do nothing or you are going to move forward and beg on the world for direction by making small and steady choices.
We are all afraid to move. We are all afraid to try. We are all a little shaken to the core when think that someone sees us, that someone might be coming in to call our bluff and make us feel known.Whatever the lie you are feeding today– cut it off. Cut it off at the root. It serves no purpose but to strangle you and steal life from you.
We cannot have that. We cannot tolerate that life-sucking any longer.
And another thing, I know it’s not enough to say, “just feed yourself truths instead of lies.” It’s never going to be that easy. For anyone who has ever tried clean eating then you know that the hardest hurdle to get over is retraining your palate.
Retraining your palate is the very first step.
If you eat a ton of processed foods then your body starts to crave those sugary sweets and delicious salts. Even if you wanted kale to be your main bae, it wouldn’t be. You must first retrain your palate and get to the point of craving unprocessed foods before the lifestyle change completely occurs.
In the same way, if you do not start eating some of the truth– spoonful by spoonful– then you’ll never know the taste of it. And if you can never figure out the taste of truth, your palate will only ever be trained to crave the lies. The lies are salty and sweet until the day you feed on something that makes you feel alive.
We are dealing with lies, A. When it comes to loving yourself well, we have a bunch of lies standing in the way like weeds sucking out the goodness from a garden. We must sink our knees into the dirt and start to pluck– weed by weed– until there is no dead life remaining.
It won’t be easy and you are probably wondering how. I’m coming back this week to write more about ingesting truth instead of lies. I hope I’ll find you on the page again soon. This whole thing is just beginning… welcome to the fight.
A PRAYER YOU CAN STEAL
Lord, I need to see the lies in black-and-white. Strip out their fake & concentrated colors and help me see the lies in black-and-white so I can start to do the work of uprooting them. Where are the weeds in my life? Show me, show me, show me. I want to be faithful. I want to be alive.