What’s in the Way of Your Beauty?

It wasn’t so much that I saw beauty then, but I was clearing the way for it.

That’s the way, isn’t it? I sat cross-legged in the chilly grass and dug my hands into the matted brown weeds. Several grass heads slid easily into my hands, but the roots remained firmly in place.

The flower bed had been stunning this spring. Crimson, magenta, and lemony tulips bobbed in the breeze, and a few clumsy dopple-headed violet aliums stood high in the back. Throughout the summer, the spring bulbs browned and withered, but white shasta daisies and purple coral bells frilled in their place. Since September, though, — late-August really– my husband had noticed that it was mostly the weeds that stood tall now.

“Um, Jen, we’ve been mowing around your weed bed lately,” he laughed wryly. “Can you fix that?”

I meant to, and even pulled out the largest, most prominent weeds, but I didn’t have time to tackle the dirt itself. It sat, and the bed grew tangled. September and October were busy until this last week. Other projects grabbed my energy and focus, and the flower bed fell to my October To-Do list.

“Right after the retreats,” I told myself.

Yesterday was the day. I grabbed my shovel, hoe and trowel, and headed outside. Up close, the matted bed was worse than I remembered. Tiny roots had grown large, snaking deep around healthy plants, dwarfing them, and stealing their nutrients. The weeds were thick and well-established. My hands alone weren’t enough to pry them out. Grabbing my pitchfork, I sank my weight into the ground, getting deep into the soil, where the roots clung the hardest.

So often, our inner lives can sink into disarray too, huh? Putting off the heavy tasks of processing, working through, and getting to the deep roots of an issue or sin, we can simply focus on the most pressing tasks at hand. Saying “I’ll think about that later,” or “I’ll tackle that issue when life gets calmer,” we instead allow some weeds to gain strong footings, sinking roots deep.

With cold weary hands in the dirt yesterday, the irony was not lost on me either, and I tugged fiercely at spindly brown plants while asking God to tug out the ugly in me too. We both worked hard.

My front flower bed? The soil is now soft, ready. The weeds are gone. Current purple coral bells once again have unhindered room to develop, and space is cleared for new growth. Check back next spring, will you? There is life hiding right under the surface.

It wasn’t so much that I saw beauty then, but I was clearing the way for it.

(And counting, always counting gifts with Ann.)

Art credit to Daniel Rozin, Wooden Mirror.

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  1. Brian Miller on October 15, 2013 at 4:00 am

    nice..i like that last line…the clearing the way for beauty…there always seems to be more important things to do than the dirty work it takes to prepare for that as well…

  2. Floyd on October 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    We are like that garden, it is painful to have the weeds removed from around us, but well worth the beauty our Father reflects in us after the manicure.

  3. Capacity Corner on October 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Thank you, Jennifer. It's so true. So easy to get busy with the "busy" and leave too many more important things untended to. Thank you for this reminder.


  4. Laurie Collett on October 16, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Beautiful, Jennifer! Flowers cannot grow in rocky, weed-infested soil, and His light cannot shine through us if our worldly thoughts block it.
    Many blessings to you and your ministry.
    God bless,

  5. Jayne on October 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I had a wise, elderly friend that told me once that working in her garden was where she did her best thinking and heard God the clearest. I, too, have found that to be true.

  6. Cheryl Barker on October 17, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Great analogy, Jennifer. Especially like the phrases "unhindered room to develop" and "space is cleared for new growth" — something we all need…

  7. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks, Brian.


  8. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm


    "Well-worth the beauty…" yes. 🙂 Thanks, Floyd.


  9. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm


    Nice to talk with you again. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jennifer Dougan

  10. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks, Laurie. Nice to have you here.


  11. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Oh Jayne, I can get that! I see parallels to my own life there often.

    Nice talking with you.


  12. Jennifer Dougan on October 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm


    Thank you. Those lines got me thinking the most too. May you have those areas swept clear in your life too!


  13. Julie on an adventure on October 19, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Love this. :).

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