Pulling weeds in our garden has become a bit of an escape for me. The chore I hated as a kid is now an outlet to get away from the noise of my own kids. This physical task gives my mind space to think and process life.

One day, early in the growing season, I went out one morning to hoe. I didn’t have much time, but I figured I could do a little each day and keep our garden well tended. The work was easy because the weeds were small and tender. I had to discern carefully between the desirable plants and the undesirable plants and proceed with caution, because in their tender shoots all those plants looked similar to my untrained eye. In no time at all, however, I had cleared about a third of our mounds and left healthy plants perched upon them with space to flourish.

More than a week went by with heavy rains that kept me out of the garden on the days I had planned to tend it. By the time I could make space for weeding again, my task had grown in proportion. When I surveyed the garden, it was painfully obvious where I had tended and where I had neglected. The weeds had gained a stronghold.

I worked to tend the garden once again, but this time the work was tedious. The weeds were obvious, but they were much harder to uproot. I broke a sweat, my back ached, and one of our hoes fell apart. Combating the weeds was much harder because I didn’t do my work to annihilate them the first time around.

I cannot escape this blatant visual metaphor for my thought life.

Weedy thoughts pop up, tender and green. Sometimes I don’t discern that they are anything different than the good thoughts, so I let them grow. Sometimes I’m just not careful to tend my thought life, even though I know what nasty roots take hold if I don’t pluck them right away.

Frustration can turn to grumbling or disrespect. Feeling unappreciated can grow into a misplaced sense of entitlement or self-pity/self-righteousness. Discontentment with circumstances spreads into all kinds of ugly things. When sprouting, these thoughts and emotions seem like honesty, but allowed to grow, they have the ability to choke out the Truth.

While Truth doesn’t deny hard realities, it does temper them with love and kindness (or lovingkindess). When I am careful to pull those weedy thoughts when I see them pop up, I make space for goodness to grow. If I can sow True thoughts in their place, a garden of lovingkindness and thankfulness grows, and the produce from such a well-tended mind will bless the people around me.

So every time I weed the garden, I’m reminded to weed my thoughts, too.

“…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2b