Every spring, I find myself ambitiously planning out all the things I will plant and grow during the summer. Sometime mid-summer, I find myself staring at my planters that rarely look anything like I planned or hoped for. Maybe a tiny tomato. Lettuce stolen by squirrels. Other plants that have decided to move in alongside my cucumbers.
The time between planting a seed and reaping the harvest can seem interminable. I get nervous right up until the plant sprouts. While I find myself relieved that the plant has begun to take root, I then have to face all the questions that come: Do you thin the sprout? Does it need more water? Was this actually the right kind of soil? Did I plant too early? Too late? Is it getting enough sun? Is that the plant sprouting or is it a weed? Did I uproot the wrong thing?
This middle time of growing is so much of our life. It doesn’t take a lot of time to plant a seed. But, the rest of the time, we wait and watch, and we have to decide when to act. And we have to learn to live with the weeds. The weeds can be so hard. Sometimes, pulling them up damages the plants you hope to harvest. And, no matter how many times you pull them up, there will be more. They take up space, water, and air. Weeds can also flower, sharing their beautiful (and distracting) blooms. But they are still weeds: They are not going to nourish us and will keep taking from us what we need to bloom all on our own.
I see my young children every day: unique human beings who started so tiny within me and now walk, talk, laugh, and cry. Most parents know the trouble of seeing the weeds around your family and knowing how little you can control. Whether it’s our child, a new job, a passion project we’ve finally begun, we still wonder: Am I giving them enough water? Too much? Have they gotten any sun lately? God asks us to live with these questions and to figure out how to grow within the weeds.
The Spirit still moves within the weeds. Just because they take up space or don’t bear the fruit we want doesn’t mean God isn’t speaking to us through them. When we’re overwhelmed by the struggles and distractions in our lives, God will still move through them. God keeps growing great things from tiny seeds, no matter how many weeds keep growing around us. It will take time. It will likely not be what we expect. We can see the difficulties around us growing taller, and we can remember that the difficulties cannot stop God from growing good things in us. And while it may be hard to see above the most difficult weeds in our lives, we are constantly reminded that no obstacle can stop God from growing good things in us.
Ellen Romer Niemiec
Director of Enrollment Management