One of my neighbors has a perfect yard. There are no weeds growing around the plants and shrubs that grace her corner lot. One day I figured out her secret. Not only does she have lawn service (as do most of the houses on our block) but her lawn crew also weeds the whole yard every single week. The perfection in her yard has been outsourced.
There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing yard work. Although with our tiny urban lots, it feels strange to pay someone for the few minutes of mowing each week. The weeding takes longer.
I choose to do my own yard work. I actually enjoy it, so it doesn’t seem like work to me. But the result is that my yard is less than perfect. Far less.
Weeds are always threatening to take over the flowers. Sometimes I can keep them at bay, but if I am out of town, or it the weather is particularly hot or cold, or I am just lazy, I get behind on the weeding. Some days my standards are low – I just hope that my flowers grow taller than the weeds, such as in the picture above, where the weedy grass is almost as tall as the vibrant poppies in May.
I could outsource the work in my garden.
But I cannot outsource my soul work.
Soul work includes examining the soil of my life for “weeds” that are getting out of control. And then paying attention to the weeds – such as bad habits, out-of-control thoughts – before they choke out what is beautiful and good in my life, my flowers.
Sometimes soul work is as simple as loosening the soil – checking my heart to see that it is receptive to the whispers of God that come into my life.
At other times soul work can involve pruning. Cutting out good activities or relationships so my soul can reach toward what is best – not just what is good.
Yes, soul work requires regular attention, perhaps daily attention to thrive. And it cannot be outsourced.
And just like in my garden, there are imperfections in my soul. I am on a journey of redemption and hope, but I am not there yet. However, there are regular glimpses of beauty, even in my imperfect state, just as my poppies blazed brightly last spring, a feast for the eyes, taller than the weeds. At times my soul blooms with kindness and consideration, hope and faith.
I keep on cultivating soul flowers in my life – hopefully each season reaching taller than the weeds. How about you? How are you actively pursuing soul work?