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October 31, 2016

I did a lot of weeding this summer in my backyard. My mom taught me when I was young that you have to get down deep and get the root all the way out, or else the weed will eventually come back. So this summer, when I decided to tackle the dandelion problem in the backyard, I bought this weeding tool.

It works great! Except that some of our weeds have really, really deep roots. And even after digging “deep,” I often heard a snap and would bring up the weed with broken roots.

I went out and dug this one up this morning to prove my point.

Pulling up all those weeds this summer gave me a lot of time to reflect on how God does weeding in our hearts. I continually allow Him to correct me and discipline me. But sometimes the root problem in my heart runs really, really deep. And it just keeps growing back.

Yesterday morning before church, I was reading my Bible, and I read about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I asked God which ones I needed to work on. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Love. Love stood out to me.

My first thought was, “Geez, I have a lot of bitterness and ugly thoughts. I have to be careful not to let them spill out. That would be humiliating. Continue to keep a tight reign on your tongue!”

But then God suddenly impressed upon me that I was going about it wrong. Instead of trying to hide my ugly thoughts, it would be better to get down deep and dig the ugliness out. Let’s deal with the roots! Let’s forgive. And stop being angry about someone else’s behavior.

I felt a spark of hope. Oh yeah, I don’t have to carry around resentment and bitterness. I do have the power to let that go, and let God change my heart.

I prayed about several things I wanted to forgive someone for. And I told God how angry I am. And then I told Him I was ready to let go. And I felt a weight lifted. I breathed more freely. I thought, “I won’t have to keep trying to stuff down and hide the bitterness. Because I’m not letting it reside here anymore.”

Before I left for church, I spotted this ring I used to wear all the time. I bought it because it has one of my favorite verses on it. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I think I’ve been pleasing God with my words, but not in my heart. And I’m ready to be lovely within again.

I put the ring on. I left for church feeling a song in my heart. God knew what He was talking about when he said forgive as He has forgiven us!

A wise friend of mine told me that when you really want to forgive someone, you can write down what it is you want to forgive, and then burn the paper. It’s a physical act to commemorate your emotional choice to forgive. That way, whenever the resentment pops back up, you can squelch it by remembering, “No! I forgave that already. I burned it!”

This morning, I wrote down on separate pieces of paper three different things I was feeling anger about. Then I wrote on another page that I was letting go and choosing forgiveness.

I went out into the backyard on this damp Oregon morning, and I burned all four pages in the fire pit. The smoke smelled wonderful, and I felt hope.

I will love all people, even those that are difficult to love. I will forgive, even if other people never change. I will be lovely and pure within my own heart, so that I will have nothing to hide. I will please God with my thoughts and my attitudes. I will not let another person’s choices make me ugly. I will forgive because Christ forgave me.

And they’re gone. Burned.

Today I am thankful. God did some weeding in my heart.

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