Although my husband and I are often opposites, one of our major things in common is that we hate yard work. Anyone who has been to our house lately can attest to this. We are waiting for cooler weather to come and then we will hire someone to shape them up for us, hopefully in such a way that I can keep up with them on my own.
The other day after coming home from an errand, I thought I would clear away a few weeds from around our AC unit. The unit was recently replaced and I did not want something as preventable as “weed damage” to harm it. Without thinking (remember, I already admitted my affinity for yard work), I started pulling weeds with my bare hands. The weeds were covered in thorns; so, needless to say, my love for yard work did not grow that day. After pulling those few weeds, I walked around the house and saw vine weeds covering several of our shrubs. They were wrapped around in all directions, all sporting large thorns.
Bitterness is a lot like the thorny weeds growing around our house. The shrub represents our marriage. In the beginning, it needs water, sunlight, time, and tender loving care to grow. If the weeds are pulled out weekly, or even more often, and the plant is tended to carefully, then the plant remains beautiful and easy to maintain. However, if the proper attention is not given to it, it will still grow, but the weeds around it will start to grow faster than the plant and can eventually choke it.
When we ignore the problems in our relationships, we allow bitterness and resentment to grow. Resentment comes after unresolved anger festers. Pulling out weeds hurts; however, pulling out a few small weeds hurts much less than pulling out giant, thorny weeds later. Once the plant is covered in huge weeds, the work and pain necessary to remove those weeds is so overwhelming, it’s hard to know where to start. The good news is, a marriage covered in weeds of bitterness and resentment are not beyond repair. It will just take a lot of work and, sometimes, the help of a professional. The bad news is there are some people who do not believe they are strong enough to battle the weeds.
A few years ago, the husband of one of my friends came over to do some landscaping work for us (read: trim shrubs, clear weeds). He was a professional landscaper and he pulled out tools I’d never seen before. He pulled out weeds and killed some of their roots while shaping the tops of each de-weeded shrub. In fact, the majority of his time was spent working on the parts of the plants we could not see.
Later that year, my friend and her amazing landscaper husband moved away and we found someone else to do landscaping for us. We thought that he too also did an amazing job. But, later we found out that he had done an amazing job of shaping up our plants, but he had not spend adequate time working on killing weeds from the roots. It was a short time later before our weeds were bigger than our bushes again, and needless to say, we were a tad frustrated.
The first example is what happens to our marriages when we take the extra time to dig and work through our hurts and anger. It takes more blood, sweat and tears; but, in the end, we not only look clean and neat on the outside, but we continue to grow properly and evidence our healing as time goes on.
The second example shows what happens when we quickly fix the surface issue of our problems when we have deeply rooted issues (such as bitterness, anger, resentment, … amongst a good number of other relationship weeds). Sure, a quick hug, kiss, and an “I’m sorry” may seem like a resolution; yet, it is a Hello Kitty band-aid on top of a gaping wound. Gaping wounds that are not treated become infected and infected wounds that are not treated can kill.
Do you have a tendency to work on the visible part of your relationships, but neglect the roots? It is an easy trap to fall into and many of us have done so at one time or another. May I encourage you to take a new, full service approach to conflict resolution? Decide if your relationship is worth working through the deep, thorny roots (if you are married, it is worth it). If necessary, hire a professional, with your worldview, to help guide you and your spouse (or future spouse) through the healing process. Remember that digging through wounds will bring additional pain before the healing arrives, so do not get discouraged if your situation becomes harder at the onset of working through those issues. It is all a journey to healing and it is worth it.
Which relational and spiritual weeds does your relationship have which you and your partner should work through?