Monday, May 28, 2012

Things I learn from the ugly side of the garden

I'm always posting the best pictures of my yard--the flowers in bloom, the successful combinations, extreme close-ups of sometimes unimpressive plants. Today I'm going to show you pictures of the ugly side of the yard. Yes, I have ugly gardens. This side yard in particular has languished for two years while I worked on the the front garden. The side is less visible, so I felt no urgency and I had no vision for it. Hence the overgrown grass, aggressive ivy, and weeds wildflowers. It was time to start weeding, at the very least. As I poured out my wrath on the cursed ivy, I pondered the deeper significance of ugly sides. I have a few in my personality--quick and ugly anger, self-righteousness, and pride to name a few. Many things that are true in the garden are also true in the soul:

I try to hide ugly. As a blogger I can show you what I want you to see. I tend to leave out the less-than-spectacular and really-just-ordinary pictures, not with the intention to deceive, but because I want to share and enjoy what is most beautiful. I really  don't want you to see the side yard, the back daylily garden, or (gasp!) behind the shed. The ugly and neglected spots are embarrassing and represent a failure of my own standards (perfectionist much?). Trying to hide the things I'm ashamed of builds walls. The ugly old couch I was ashamed of stopped me from inviting people over. After talking and praying about my anger with a good friend, I felt myself putting up walls again to keep things from getting too real. But I need to see and deal with the ugly parts because...

Ugly affects everything else. Those "wildflowers" today will be going to seed tomorrow. The dandelions blooming (in my driveway, no less), will be blown by wind and giddy little children to ever corner of the garden. Thistles, bindweed, creeping charlie, and untold more start sprouting up where they will choke out good flowers and get themselves in the pictures. (Rabbit trail: I don't use Preen because I'm an organic gardener and I want the flowers to self-seed.) "I should have pulled that weed before it flowered" is my ongoing lament. It is good when God starts working on a neglected area of my life. He will garden that space back into his beautiful design and it will benefit me and my relationships with others. The process is painful but I have to remember that...

Ugly is not my identity. When I've spent an hour ripping out ivy and I've only touched 0.1% of it, all I can see around me is ivy. Weeding is the same way. It fills my eyes and grates on my soul. There is so much to be done! I'm tired, filthy, soaked, and can barely unbend my back from looking at the ground. But the beautiful is still there, still true, still part of me. I stop and remember the successes, the stunning moments of grace, and I have hope that this ugly side I'm working on will be beautiful too.

Here are some verses from the Bible that guide and encourage me in this process:
John 10:10 (Jesus said) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.


  1. Boy do I relate to your post. My husband and I just spent hours weeding the ugly side of our garden. Isn't it amazing how your garden can look so beautiful one year, and by the next spring, look horrible? Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment.

  2. Chelsea, this is so good. Spot on! You are so encouraging. Thank you for sharing- both your yard garden and your soul garden with us. :)

  3. Chelsea, It takes patience and time, but it will look so good. Prayers help too! Can't wait to see the progress...
    Thanks for stopping by with your lovely comment.