One of my favorite things to do is get out in the garden and get my hands dirty. There is nothing like working outdoors to bring you back to the Godly beauty of nature.
However, having a garden comes the responsibility of keeping out the weeds. If you have a garden, you inevitably will have weeds. Even with the best of weed killers and preventative measures you are never 100% free of them. Some weeds are actually pretty... but they are still weeds and they find their way into nooks and crannies everywhere!
What do I like about weeding? It makes the garden look nicer. It doesn’t take much to see results. You feel as though you have accomplished something and that always feels good.
Someone once told me the definition of a weed was “anything you didn’t intentionally plant”. Although not a weed, sometimes a tree will try to sprout or a patch of flowers that seeded (and not necessarily from your garden).
Weeding can be considered, on one level, as separating the wheat from the chaff. That term means “separating the good or valuable from that which is inferior”.
The other thing we need to do in our garden is to cut back the overgrowth. In doing so you are actually helping the plant or bush as it does not need to work so hard to send nutrition to extraneous limbs or shoots.
To take that a step further, how can we apply that to our lives? What do you need to separate in your life? What needs to be trimmed back.
In order for us to be productive and to maintain our sense of self, it is important that we occasionally cull out our list of “people”. George used to look at people’s friends lists on Facebook and make comments about the fact that some people like to “friend” anyone and everyone. Their lists of “friends” could be 200, 300, 500 or more. Can we possibly have that many friends? Do we need that many friends?
I think we all agree that many of those we call “friends” are mere acquaintances. With social media so prevalent, we may see many people in our feeds but, in reality we know very little about these hundreds of people.
What criteria do you use when adding a friend to your life? In person or online there should be some specific traits you are looking for in order to call someone your friend.
I am guilty of adding people that I don’t really know. I would justify it at times. Such as the time I was trying to help organize a high school reunion. I friended as many former classmates as possible in order to create a page where we could post information about the reunion. I had over 100 people on that list. I kept them there for a very long time. I didn’t end up making it to that reunion so was not able to rekindle or reconnect to people.
Over time I have unfriended people. A little bit at a time. You see, I have really decided that I do not need that many people knowing about my life. Here is what I do to weed out that list, both personally and online. I ask myself some questions. “Am I ever really going to want to connect with that person ‘in person’?” “Were they ever really a friend to me?” (At least 99% of the people I went to high school with were not my friends. In fact many of them were people out of my social circle and actually were not nice to me. Most never talked to me.) “Do I know anything about this persons family or personal life (aside from what may be seen online)?” Since many might be in other states, my question might be, “Do I ever really plan on trying to see them again?” “Does this person add any value to me or my family?”
If I answer “no” to some of these questions, then I really do not need to keep them in my life. The relationships I should keep are those who have been and continue to be supportive of me, who I have some common ground with and can talk to them, who bring something to the “table” for and with me. While I don’t necessarily dislike the others, I do not see the point in maintaining contact with them.
I am separating the chaff from the wheat. I am choosing to recognize that it’s not who has the most friends when he/she dies, but what relationships did he/she foster in his/her lifetime. Those are the important ones. Those are the ones that not only added value to your life but for whom you hopefully added value to theirs.
What will you do now? Will you take a second look at the people in your life? Take a good hard look. Doing this exercise is not easy to do. You feel you may hurt some feelings. Often, especially on social media, if we “unfriend” or “unfollow” someone, they do not even know we are gone. They do not miss us when they no longer see us.
Life is meant for living with those we love, in relationship with those we love. We have “bonus” people, of course. But you have to know when it is time to let some of those old ones go.
One of my daughter’s favorite books when they were young was “Orlando’s Little While Friends”. It is sort of like the saying “Some people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” It talks about the different kinds of friends we have along our road. Sometimes we meet people and just enjoy a weekend with them. Sometimes we really hit it off and we keep them for longer or for life. It is important to recognize the people who come into our lives for a reason – and when that reason is gone, we let them go. For a season? Maybe they were friends in childhood, youth, college or a period in our lives when we really had a connection – but we have changed or they have changed and we no longer need that relationship or feel connected to that relationship. Let it go. And if we are truly lucky, we have met people who come into our lives for a lifetime. Those are the ones to hang on to. Those are the people who have stuck by us through the best and the worst of times. Those are the ones that you have such a strong connection, that neither time nor space will make a difference. Those are the people that you can be physically separated from for years but have instant connection with when you see each other and it is as if no time has passed at all.
Do yourself a favor. Sit down and do some reflection… and start doing some weeding. As you let some of those relationships go, you will begin to see the value of the things in your garden that are truly beautiful and you can better cultivate what is left.