Monday, July 31, 2017

Do you pull weeds or do they pull you?

One day I was out walking and noticed a huge pile of dirt where thistles were taking over. I don't know who is in charge of upkeep, but obviously, they haven't been keeping up. 

Overgrown weeds along the trail where I often walk;
a profound reminder of what happens when weeds get out of control.
As I observed the tall thistles, I couldn't help but think of a story that challenges me every time I read it:

"I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense.
I saw that it was overgrown with nettles.
It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down.

Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson:
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber."

Proverbs 24: 30 - 34 (NLT) 

A few days later, I was out walking on that same path and came upon some very large earth mover equipment. Looks like they had to call in the big guns to get rid of the out-of-control weeds.

Same spot as pictured earlier, except for the earth mover.
When it comes to pursuing the passions and dreams of our heart, it isn't much different than tending a garden. Weeds that can choke our dreams can appear on two levels; visible and invisible.


The Visible

For me, on a practical level, it means cultivating a life of consistently working away at all that needs to be done. If I start letting things pile up, I soon get overwhelmed and become stifled. Soon the weeds of stress and anxiety can take root. That's when I start wanting to have a little extra sleep and a little folding of the hands to rest.

According to the proverb, poverty will suddenly appear in the midst of your so-called resting. This is obviously not talking about keeping the margin in your life and making sure you get adequate rest. This is talking about laziness beyond a period of rest. If things pile up, I can start to have the urge to be lazy! It's almost an oxymoron. A lot to do and no motivation to do it!

A real practical tool that helps me keep things under control is a great program called "Evernote", on my smartphone or desktop. Anything that comes to mind that needs to be done is entered into a category appropriate for the job. I find that once it's in writing, it's out of my mind. I used to keep "to do" lists on paper scattered around my house. Now that I use Evernote, all my lists are in one place and I always have them with me. When I'm exercising and something comes to mind, I can simply create a new category or add it to an existing category.

It's a small tool that if used regularly keeps me on track and keeps my "garden" looking nice and gives me peace of mind.

The Invisible

When it comes to matters of the soul, which is where our passions exist and where we nurture our dreams, I find that a prayer journal can be a type of "Evernote". It can be as simple as a little notebook listing items that you care about; relational issues, need of resources, ideas, etc. There is something very powerful about maintaining a consistent life of prayer and it has a way of keeping the weeds of anxiety and stress from growing and taking over.

If you find that you have an overgrown pile of weeds, you might need to call in the earth movers - like a counselor, or a weekend away where you prioritize your life and focus on what really matters and what you really want to grow in your "garden".  Once you feel like you have pulled the BIG weeds, begin to keep after them with consistent nurturting through useful tools like Evernote and prayer.
Either way, keep those weeds pulled before they pull you!