It was a Saturday morning. I sat across from my friend, listening as she poured her heart out to me, the raw emotion coming out in one big tidal wave. It ended in her saying, “I am trying to do all I can but I never seem to get better. I still feel awful and I just want to be okay.” I knew my response was not something she wanted to hear. She wanted a quick fix solution so she would no longer feel the pain that had been plaguing her for months. “Unfortunately,” I said, “there’s nothing more you can do other than keep doing what you’re doing. I hate using clichés, but this is something I strongly believe in; growth and healing take time.”
We live in an age of fast and easy
I admit, I’m one of those who when my iPhone or Internet connection is slow the angry side of Kaitlyn comes out. It’s such an inconvenience to my precious time and me. I only allotted so many minutes to this task and if it takes too long then it will throw my whole day off.
Technology has constructed us to be more impatient. Now this is not me bashing technology, saying it is the cause of all our problems. I love my apple products. I love having my iPhone to use as my iPod, GPS, and computer all in one small rectangular box. It’s convenient and helps me out when I’m in a pickle. But I do believe technology along with the cultural messages we receive is a contributing factor to our impatience.
We have been conditioned to believe that if we don’t get something quickly and if it isn’t easy then there must be something wrong with us. That we must be doing something wrong. There must be an alternative way, a short cut; to whatever destination we want to be at. I don’t know about you, but my dad’s “short cuts” he took on road trips usually took twice as long to get to our destination than it would have to take the main route. Not a good thing when you have a 10 and 7 year old in the backseat who are beginning to antagonize each other because they’re bored.
What I have found as I have helped people through the struggles they come in contact with in their everyday life is they want to reach the end goal of “happiness” without going through the hard work of processing through their past experiences, and feeling the feelings that come with it.
When it comes to healing and growth there is no perfect algorithm to predict where we will be in one, five, or 20 years. We often look to the future with our end goal in mind. Idealizing what life will be like. Looking at ourselves through this image of black and white. “If I feel sad than I can’t be happy.” “ If I feel angry then I can’t feel joy.” “If it takes me more than 4 weeks to grieve this loss in my life then there is something wrong with me.”
Which leads me to this scripture: Luke 13:6-9
“Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
We are often so quick to yell, “Cut it down!” and judge ourselves when we aren’t “healing fast enough”. Which leads to “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not smart enough.”… and so on.
What does it take to grow a fruitful tree? A patient Gardener. Willing to prune and dig into the deep weeds that are inhibiting the trees growth, pulling them out to see.
God is our great Gardener. He gets down and dirty, digging deep into the earth revealing to us the weeds that are cutting off the nutrients to our souls. Showing us parts of our lives that need pruning. He provides us with the fertilizer to help us grow: counseling, community, medication, books, journaling, prayer, grace, truth, etc. But even as He tends to our souls our growth takes time. Just as a tree takes time to grow and bear fruit, it takes us time to grow and receive that fruits of the spirit.
Dr. Henry Cloud calls this redemptive time in his book Changes that Heal. Until we are willing to pull out the weeds and acknowledge them in our present time they will continue to grow deeper and deeper into our souls. Preventing the fertilizers in our lives to enter and help us in bearing fruit. When we do acknowledge the weeds in our life, bringing them into the present without judgment and condemnation, it allows for those fertilizers to reach our soul. Weeds (sometimes the same ones) will continue to grow trying to cut off our fertilizers. But as we continue to pull them into the present we will see a difference in ourselves and who we are becoming.
The truth is there can be light in the darkness. We can be happy while also being sad. We can find joy even when depression is present. We can experience the good and the crappy all at the same time. Fearing the weeds in our lives will prevent us from experiencing the joy that God has designed for us.
What are the weeds in your life? What and who are your fertilizers? How can your fertilizers help you dig deep and pull them out and bring them into the present?