Last summer, we did a lot of work to the front of our house. I mean, a lot. We tore down the crumbling brick façade and replaced it with stucco and stone. We removed the concrete stoop and built a cedar and composite porch. We replaced the soffit and fascia, installed a new roof and gutters. (And by we, I mean my husband. But someone had to watch the kids!)
As a result, our front yard was all torn up. We figured this was fine because we had wanted to put in a sprinkler system anyway. But fall was upon us and we were exhausted, so we waited until this spring to tackle the sprinklers. Over the last 6 months our yard became green again – with weeds. We didn’t do anything about it because we knew we’d be tearing up the yard again away.
The beginning of May was sprinkler time. We (again, my husband) trenched deep into the dirt, rototilled the top soil, and brought in a few more yards of garden soil for grass the grass to grow in. We bought top of the line grass seed that’s supposed to be drought and weed resistant. We spend a lot of time and money on this yard.
10 days later we had sprouts and 3 weeks later we had patches of lush, green grass. We also had weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. So we took to the front lawn (this time myself included) to start pulling weeds in our sprouting grass. As I was squatting in the hot sun pulling weeds, I started thinking a lot about roots.
We had tilled and laid new soil, but since we didn’t get down to the very roots of the weeds, they grew back up alongside the grass only their roots were much deeper and stronger. Although we had cut their tops and planted new beginnings, the weeds still prevailed.
Usually roots are a good thing – when the plants are good. Think of a strong tree with roots that stretch in each direction. People talk about putting down roots in a town, where they want to make connections in their community and raise their family indefinitely. We can (and should) be rooted in Christ; be firmly planted in our identities as children of God.
But if the plant is a weed, then roots are bad. The roots go deep and they are very hard to get rid of. It reminds me of the wounds and sinfulness that lay deep within us. We all have wounds from our sinful world: maybe hurtful words from a parent, or a relationship that went south and left us questioning our worth. Often we think of marriage as a new beginning where we can leave those hurts in the past and start a new life. Only like weeds in new dirt, those roots are still there.
One of the questions we ask couples in marriage prep is if the past can be a problem to their relationship. I’m always concerned with those who answer that everything will be fine because of their love or because they left the past in the past. Marriage doesn’t heal those wounds if someone has left the roots deep down inside. Marriage doesn’t solve your problems with lust or pornography or selfishness. At some point those weeds grow back, and the only way to get rid of them is to cut them off at the source.
When I came back in from pulling weeds, my hands were covered in mud. I had dirt deep in my fingernails and in the cracks of my fingers. Healing our wounds by getting at the roots requires getting messy. It isn’t fun or pretty, but the results are to be freed from the weeds that threaten our marriages.
Currently in my own life some roots that have been dormant for quite some time have resurfaced as weeds. I have been recalling childhood wounds of being bullied and losing best friend after best friend, wounds that changed my self-image and made me always wonder what was wrong with me. The love of my husband has helped me to see my goodness, but ultimately I need God’s love to heal me and to cut off this wound at the root. God is taking me through this time in order to weed out the bad stuff so that His love can grow deeper. It’s messy but it’s worth it.
This summer it may be time to examine the roots in all of our lives, to see if they are roots of sin and hurt, or roots of strength and identity in God’s love. Marriage doesn’t fix our wounds or solve our problems. Reconciliation, counseling, prayer, and confronting these things with your spouse are the only ways to get ride of those weeds once and for all.