How "weedy" is your life? Friend Vivian Mabuni helps us take a careful look at what might need to go.
Digging Through the Weeds
By Vivian Mabuni
Weeds take zero effort to grow. They just grow. The weeds by our mailbox grow without any fertilizer or even dirt. Weeds rob the plants of the most vital nutrients in the soil. Some of the ugliest and most relentless weeds growing in our front yard literally wrap themselves around the nice, healthy plants, threatening to choke them out.
I used to think I was high on the niceness scale. According to the CliftonStrengths assessment, my top strength is positivity. I'm typically enthusiastic, fun loving, and encouraging. Then I got married. Then I had kids. Then the truth of my selfish and self-protective ways surfaced, and I had nowhere to hide. Nothing has humbled me more than being a wife and mom. Darrin and the kids have seen me at my worst, and I'm sad to admit they have been at the receiving end of my meanest, harshest words and thoughts, as well as my passivity and lack of engagement, which is also rooted in self.
Over the years God's Spirit has opened my eyes to my selfish, sinful, controlling ways, and I have needed to humble myself and admit and name the sin. Just like weeds, the same sins appear again and again, and I have to apologize repeatedly. Though I don't deserve their grace and love, my husband and kids continue to grant forgiveness. The Master Gardener (John 15:1) is faithful to attend to the weeds that threaten my growth as well.
Left unattended, my soul gets weedy like our yard, bent toward selfishness and sin. When it comes to removing those weeds, I've found they are easier for God to pull when the ground is damp, and sometimes he uses pain and tears to soften the soil in my soul.
Some of the severest pain came soon after I hit the milestone when all three of my children attended school all day. New opportunities for ministry opened up for me: I began pursuing a seminary degree, joined a national executive ministry team, and started speaking at more women's events. Life felt fruitful and abundant. Then I received the call no one wants: "You have cancer."
The loss of new and meaningful ministry and schooling felt so unfair. I thought I had patiently waited for the right time to engage, and I thought my contributions to kingdom building were useful, helpful and purposeful. Yet when I look back, I see those years of battling cancer and wandering in the post-cancer wilderness as the very things God used to bring about even greater ministry I would not have otherwise known.
Though submitting to the process of digging out weeds requires faith, we can trust the expert hands of the skilled Gardener. Though we may not fully understand his ways, his motives are not to harm us but to produce health and growth. Our yes to his skillful, loving hand in our lives yields untold possibilities.
I still need to keep these truths front and center. Though weeding takes place for our good, at the time the process stinks. But lasting growth and maturity require that the expert hands of the Gardener shape us. The blessing of living this way is not so much the fruit and the by-products, but the joy of deeper intimacy with Jesus. He is the blessing.
Vivian Mabuni is a national speaker and author with a passion to disciple leaders who will love God and influence families, communities, and the world to help spread the flourishing of God's kingdom in every place. She has served on staff with Cru for 30 years and is the author of Warrior In Pink and Open Hands, Willing Heart, and host of the brand new podcast "Someday Is Here." Viv loves drinking coffee with her husband of 28 years, Darrin, and marveling at their three young adult kids. She also loves post-its, washi tape, sushi and shoes. Connect with her on Instagram/Twitter: @vivmabuni or her website: www.vivianmabuni.com
Adapted from the newly released, Open Hands, Willing Heart: Experience the Joy of Saying Yes to God. Used with permission, copyright 2019, Vivian Mabuni, Waterbrook.