Several years ago someone gave my daughter a beautiful rose bush. Because she wanted it.
That rose bush was beautiful, and for a couple of years, we enjoyed watching it grow strong and wild and beautiful beneath our kitchen window, and just outside her bedroom window.
Then, something happened. It got hard to trim around the bush because it had grown some viscious thorns. So, for the next year or two, it got more and more neglected. Every once in a while, someone would venture in and cut it back and clean up around it, but not nearly enough to stop the problem.
Now, years and years later, I noticed the rose bush had grown so big, so out-of-control and wild, that everything around it had grown up in a nasty, unsightly way. Mixed in with the bush was tall grass, freaky spiders, morning glories, irises, weeds of all varieties, and a heap of rocks someone had placed around it to keep the weeds at bay (ha!).
Today was the day. It was sightly overcast, so I hoped the sun would not be too hot and burn my skin, but I was waging war on the rose bush.
I started in small, cutting away the branches on the outside, and worked my way toward the center. As I went, I cut down weeds, shivered at the spiders, but each inch I gained, the Lord was whispering to me.
This is your parenting.
These thorns that you all feared are those issues you avoid because you are too busy looking at the beautiful roses.
These weeds are those character flaws that you noticed, but were too busy to trim away.
Now, David, my eight-year-old came out alongside me and helped me. He did not seem at all afraid of the thorns. He rather enjoyed using the trimmers to cut back the rose bush and tame it’s wildness. But that is because it’s not his rose bush. To him, it was a thing to conquer. To me, it was an allegory.
Every cut was a flaw. Every weed pulled was a failure. Every inch reclaimed was a picture of the work, the real work I have ahead of me.
Can you believe we even built a structure to give that beast something to prop against? That huge, heavy structure that I cut down today with an eighty year old ax. We even had that structure embedded in concrete. I chopped it down, and dragged it to the front yard, hoping someone will steal it before the trash men come on Friday. “How”, the Lord asked, “did you prop up one of your children, or yourself, even when that person (me!) had flaws that needed to be eradicated?” Instead, we built a frame to prop on. Ugh.
I let one lone rose bush completely take root in our family, and even when it was clearly no longer serving its purpose, I let it take residence in my yard and strike fear in the heart of my children. I let it own a piece of our property. And now, I gotta take it back.
I worked for hours out in the heat, even once the overcast skies cleared up. Once the Lord finished His lecture to me, the work became therapeutic. I now have a very vivid picture of the work ahead of me as a mother.
No more ignoring weeds or cowering in fear over thorns. No more ignoring character flaws or cowering in fear from the tough issues.
And I am reclaiming my yard for my family. And my family for Christ.
But the yard is huge. The yard is BIG, with lots of areas that are just as overgrown and ignored at this one. But I will reclaim it. I decided to work from the inside out. I am going to hit the perimeter of my house, then branch out from there. And now that I have completely obliterated that rose bush, I will get outside help to finish. My work in my family is big, with lots of issues and character flaws, and I am starting with me, then I will keep going through the family, training them as the Lord leads. Just as I should. And if at times I need to call a friend for help, advice, or encouragement, I will do so, just as believers in Christ should.
Now that I have killed the rose bush down to the ground, there is STILL work to be done on it. It must be removed by its roots or it will come back. They must be dug up and removed from the yard altogether. And the bed that it owned, needs to be cleared away, and raked away, and grass planted. Or flowers. But it must be made into something that is a benefit and a blessing to our family.
Now, I forgot to mention something. Right after I finished cutting that beast and all its weeds, and structure to the ground, one of my children walked outside and said, “Oh, I love the rose bush. We are going to keep it, aren’t we?”
When you do yard work, or kingdom work, not everyone is going to be happy with you. Some may even be disappointed. Some may discourage you along the way. Even if they did not like the monstrosity at the beginning, they will miss it once it’s gone. That’s okay. You are a mama. It’s your job to do the tough work, to make the hard decisions, and to take the heat when it comes your way. And listen to the Lord as you trim, cut, drag, dig, and take away the parts that are bad for you and your family.
And just in case you missed this part: These things are always better done constantly, day in and day out. Hitting it hard when it’s glaring and cannot be ignored is not the easiest way. or the best way. but if things have gotten out of hand, don’t be afraid to jump in right where you are. Put on your gloves, grab your shears and get to work.