Control Issues and Grace

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. ~ Genesis 2:15 (njkv)

I am having a little trouble showing grace the past few days.  It seems that my neighbor does not enjoy my style of gardening.  

My neighbor’s yard is very neatly manicured and edged and weeded with chemicals.  His grass is very, very green.  There are many shrubs, few flowers.  It is what my friend and I call landscaped – it is the bare minimum for a neatness factor.  We also think, in some cases, it is a facade for control issues.

Elizabeth Marchman butterfly #1
My yard is full of gardens.  They line my driveway, my portion of the sidewalk, and my fences.  I have herb gardens, vegetable gardens, flower gardens.  Some gardens are mixtures of mints and sages, some heirloom variety cosmos, coreopsis and bachelor buttons.  My crab grass has been weeded out by the clover that took it over in one corner of my yard which the honey bees love.  It naturally controls nuisance weeds and adds nitrates back to the soil.  I have what some might refer to as cottage style gardens.  I might choose the term free-spirited – The wispier, the better.  My grass is a little higher than my neighbor’s – it is not knee high, but gracefully covers my bare feet when I walk in it.  Unfortunately, this adds to his stress level because where our yards meet, to his eye, mine seems unkempt.  So he cuts it.  Whenever he feels like it.  What he does not do is cut the whole lawn making my yard look half taken care of and to my eye, unkempt.

I know this may seem a petty issue and not worthy of a blog writing.  It is a difference of opinion and style and really, when all is said and done, is just a preference.  Those things I can handle and respect.  

The snide comments to other neighbors and to me, not so much. 

The comments are harder to handle than all the weeds that creep into my yard.  The more his control issues, lawnmower and Round-up spill over into my yard, the harder I find it to show any grace.  My teeth keep finding their way into the end of my tongue and I am sure that I am only one more comment away from completely losing it and my sanity, but thank you Lord for your Grace, which is sufficient for all situations.  I just, very simply, feel as though I have used the last bits in my little grace barrel.  Right now it feels empty and I feel hurt.  I try to not take this personally.  I am trying to show grace.  I would love to sit down and explain to him how much joy my gardens bring me and how the words that he has spoken to me and others have taken some of that joy away.  I know they are just words and I should just let them float away, but Embarrassment crept across my face blushing my cheeks when I knew the words had been spoken to a neighbor and friend.  Then, Spite reared up joining the party and began to spout off, “well, I will just show you.  I will plant a garden to border our front yards and then we will just see how you feel about that!”  The twins, Vengeance and Vindictiveness, walked up and reminded me with the power of an enticing threat, “His fence is not to code, remember?”

Elizabeth Marchman flower #32I went inside feeling low and angry and hurt.  I reasoned that it wasn’t even my tongue that should be hurting, his was the one that had been wagging.  Mine had spoken in defense of my gardens.  Gardening organically was good for the earth, the honey bees and for me.  My yard is much like a bird sanctuary.  The yellow finches rest on the bachelor buttons and eat the seeds.  The bumble bees buzz around the milk weed while the monarchs lay their eggs.  My tomatoes and peppers and herbs can be eaten without ingesting chemicals and the rain water that flows deep into the cracks and crevices of the soil is clean and pure.  God has given me a little corner of His earth for me to care for and I believe that God and I are on the same page here.  It says in Genesis that He gave man dominion over the earth.  He expects us to care for it, nurture it and weed it, but I believe that first we have to begin in our hearts and our minds.  So I had to get to work and it seemed I had much work to do.

First, I plucked Embarrassment. Why should it be allowed to grow and choke out Joy and Happiness?  Why should I have to defend the beauty God creates in my yard or the nature that He gives to take refuge there?  The prickly Spite was the next to go.  She is a true troublemaker and sucks up all the nutrients that Grace needs to grow.  Vengeance and Vindictiveness are two things God did not plant in my garden.  The devil certainly wasted no time planting those seeds and they wasted no time growing, and before I knew what was happening, they almost completely destroyed Forgiveness who was struggling to survive in the darkness they had created.  I had to grab the pick ax for them both because those roots grow fast and they grow deep and they get their nourishment from the fires of hell.  As I weeded, it appeared I had some control issues of my own.  How had the weeds in my little Christian Garden gotten so out of control so fast?  My friend reminded me yesterday that sometimes the weeds just get ahead of us.  Yes, indeed, they do.

Elizabeth Marchman butterfly #2

I believe that we can have a variety of gardens to suit different tastes.  My gardens grow with total abandon and never look back.  I can only hope that one day my Christian attitude will do the same.  I hope that I will always choose to freely take a fresh cutting of Grace that God so freely gives me fresh seeds each day for planting and that they will always find nourishment for growth. I can pray that I choose to take a cutting of Forgiveness, so that I might always forgive as quickly as God forgives me, whenever I am hurt.  I can only hope that one day my own angry tongue will be stopped in awe of Self-control’s beauty and that I remember to nurture it until it is the most exquisite flower in my garden.  May my neighbor begin to see the beauty in my words and deeds that Grace replenishes so that he can always see God’s beauty in my little corner of His world.

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4 Responses to “Control Issues and Grace”

  1. annchastain says:

    This is awesome. We could all use a little pruning and weeding in our gardens.

  2. Marye says:

    Ilove all the pictures of your garden… take more and post them!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    The last picture of the yellow butterfly (I think it is a tiger swallowtail) was taken yesterday after I wrote the entry. Logan and I came back from a short walk and it flew right in front of me, touched my face as it went by and then landed on the butterfly bush. I was actually talking to the butterfly after Logan took the picture with his phone and a bumblebee got all upset and began flying around my head. I stepped back and it landed next to the butterfly and they had lunch together. It was the softest fluttery touch as it flew by – almost like a really sweet kiss. Quite amazing.

  4. Emie says:

    You live in the Secret Garden!!! I love it! Thank you for the gentle reminder that I have some weeds to tackle in my own Christian Garden, and thanks for the beautiful picture of God's Grace.

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