The Weeds

I’ve started riding a bike around the neighborhood a little bit these last few months. It’s been a good way to get some exercise, get out of the house, and has even become our twice daily routine to get my youngest to and from her school and avoid most of the traffic. So I’ve had an opportunity to see some morning greenery that I wouldn’t typically pay as much attention to.

This morning, some of that greenery started me wondering if it was meant to be there. There were a few colorful flowers popping up in odd places in lots between yards. And while they were beautiful, I couldn’t help but be concerned with how they got there and why they weren’t discarded. See, I wasn’t looking in a carefully curated garden. These plants were weeds.

Normally when we think about a weed, the image that comes to mind is something thorny, ugly, aggressive, and perhaps grows way too quickly. And, while all of that could be true, it doesn’t have to be. By definition, a weed is merely something growing in a place it was not intentionally planted. So not only are the ugly crabgrass and thistles a problem, so too is a wildflower in the middle of a golf course green, an orange tree in the middle of a corn field, or a rosebush springing up between your daffodils.

When the ugly weeds appear, we do our best to take care of them right away. At best, we use chemicals to treat our lawns and gardens, yank them out by the roots, and hope they never return. At worst, we hack them down with our mowers and hedge trimmers so they don’t remain an eyesore. But we don’t let them continue to flourish. They’re clearly a problem that nobody wants to have around.

But when the beautiful weed appears, we hesitate. We sometimes try to figure out if we should let it be. Sometimes we consider incorporating it into the current landscape. Sometimes a happy little accident could cause us to completely shift our perspective on how our lawns and gardens should be growing. However, at the end of the day, it’s still a weed. It’s still something that we didn’t want there and didn’t plant there.

That made me think about how I treat things in my own life. When the ugly creeps in, I make every effort to eliminate it. Nobody wants to see that and I don’t want it to flourish. But I began thinking about all the times that I wasn’t really being intentional and something halfway positive springs up. It’s not what I wanted. It’s not what was planned for the garden I’m growing inside. It’s still a weed.

But it’s so pretty. Maybe it’s a happy accident and this was meant to be? Except that given time, those “good” things that I allowed to pop up all over the garden will spread, begin to take over, and choke out all the resources I should be devoting to other intentional moments of my life. And while it may look halfway decent for a time, when that moment passes, you’re left with a completely different configuration for your life, your priorities, and your relationships.

Jim Collins reminds us never to settle for Good when you should be striving for Great. I guess that’s what I’m getting at here. Be intentional. Know where you’re meant to go and pursue it with a passion. Don’t settle for letting things happen to you and being ok with just good enough along the way. Nobody ever looks at their garden full of weeds and expects to be a “yard of the month” recipient. Get out there, stop rationalizing, clean out the flower beds of anything except what was meant to be planted there. And then start bearing real fruit.

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