I’ve just officially moved my life home from a full summer out at Pleasantview Bible Camp. It was an amazing two months spent investing into the next generation. Ryan and I have been working out at Pleasantview for the past 9 summers. Our first year on staff, we got married on the camp grounds two days after camp ended! We have spent most of our wedding anniversaries at camp and have poured so much of our hearts and souls into making each summer a success. Clearly, we love camp!
But the thing about spending a summer at camp is that, as much as it feels like life just sort of stands still while you’re out there, the reality is that the world keeps turning. Life in the real world just keeps on happening, whether you’re there to experience it or not.
Want to know how I know? Weeds.
If you’ve ever owned a home with a yard, you will know that things can get a little crazy when you’re not around to maintain it. When we first moved into our current home a few years ago, we were impressed by the beautiful landscaping that the previous owner had done to make this home stand out from the rest. And for the first summer or two that we lived here, things were great. The landscaping fabric under the rock beds was still fairly new, and we didn’t have much trouble at all with weeds growing where we didn’t want them. It was almost like the yard maintained itself. Almost.
But then one year that started to change. All of a sudden, I started to notice weeds poking through. And try as I might, with the rigors of the camp schedule, I simply couldn’t keep up with pulling them all out.
This year, things have reached an all time low. Despite my spraying earlier this spring, the rock beds out front are literally infested. The grass looks like it belongs in a wooded meadow somewhere. And guys, I pulled weeds up in my backyard last night that were literally four feet tall. If my daughter is even remotely average (and according to her initials—AVG—she will be), she won’t reach that height for another six years! Imagine if I could let my weeds grow for that long? They’d give Jack’s beanstalk a run for its money.
Long story short, the yard has taken on a life of its own. Things have gotten out of control.
(I’m going to get real vulnerable here and show you a couple pictures of some of my weeds. And this is just the front yard… where the weeds were only 1-2 feet tall 😐)
And here’s the thing. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s not that we aren’t bothered by the fact that our yard is currently bringing down the value on all our neighbors’ properties (…sorry Barry and Kim). It’s just that our time and attention has been focused elsewhere. And not even on some mindless distraction, either! But on good stuff! Good, meaningful, significant work.
And life is like that, isn’t it? You take your eyes off one area of your life to focus on another for a season, and suddenly you come back to find weeds growing up where they don’t belong. Even when you’re focused on good things, those pesky seeds that you didn’t notice blowing in on the breeze can still begin to take root when you’re not paying attention.
I think “life weeds” can take on all kinds of forms. Maybe for you it’s impatience—the kids have made you late every day this week, and you just can’t take it anymore. Maybe it’s frustration—your co-worker just doesn’t get you and you can’t figure out how to make this working relationship function. Or maybe it’s discontentment—one too many tabloids has got you wondering why your relationship doesn’t seem to have the same spark as Harry and Meghan’s.
For me, right now, one weed is my iPhone usage. I’m totally addicted to that thing. I can be laying in bed at night thinking, “Man, I really need to go to sleep right now. I’m so exhausted.” But then I will proceed to lay there staring blankly at my phone screen for another hour instead of shutting my eyes and going to sleep. I’m always so glued to it. I may not have any reason to look at it half the time, but I do anyway. It is a weed that has crept up in my life over the years. And while it started out small, I feel like it is starting to resemble one of those four-footers that I pulled up from my backyard last night. And I’m not okay with that. I’m not okay with how it impacts my productivity. I’m not okay with how it distracts me from making wiser choices. And I’m definitely not okay with the idea that my little girl could grow up resenting how much time I spend on my phone.
This has been a powerful reminder for me to pay attention in life. Because it’s so easy to let things slip little by little when you’re not careful. Small sins become bigger ones. Simple pastimes become time-consuming distractions—or worse, full-fledged addictions. And the weeds just keep growing taller, all while you’re eyes are fixed in another direction. And it’s not that you don’t care about those weeds growing up, it’s just… well, you’ve got your mind on other things.
So, I think it’s time to do some weeding—not just in my yard, but also in my life. Because I don’t want my life to become overrun with weeds the way my yard has. There’s just too much at stake.
Before I go, let me offer you a piece of advice—and this one’s for free. Don’t turn a blind eye to the weeds in your life. Don’t let your weeds win. Or before you know it, you’ll have four-foot giants reaching for the top of your fence line… and trust me, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Better to just nip them in the bud before things get out of control. Okay?
What weeds have grown up in your life over time? And what might you do to start pulling them out?