"You let it grow."
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
A couple weeks ago, we were three days into a long-anticipated Hawaiian vacation when I woke up to rainclouds. As I sat out on our balcony drinking a cup of coffee, I could feel a weighty disappointment pressing on me that felt disproportionate to the circumstance at hand. Had you heard me in the weeks prior, you'd practically be able to hear the scowl on my face through the phone as I chatted with friends about the grey winter in Portland, the foreignness of my changing pregnant body, the challenges of my job, or difficulties of various relationships I was navigating. So, even from that Hawaiian balcony over the ocean surrounded by tropical birds and wild starfruit, my raincloud-directed scowls were (unfortunately) very on-brand for me at that moment. The obvious contrast between my setting and my heart's posture brought me once again to God on that quiet morning. Surveying the clouds, I could sense him telling me that he didn't see the rain the way I did, that he saw them for their beauty and purpose. The reminder was well taken: sure, God sees things differently than I do. But returning home I still felt the weight of my negativity, and I didn't like it. One particular issue that had been plaguing me was the growing resentment I'd been feeling towards a close friend. I desperately wanted to reverse these feelings. My consistent prayer was for God to teach me how to love this person, but I still felt at a loss for how to do it. After hearing my struggle, someone way wiser than me suggested I treat this resentment like a weed growing in my garden. She suggested I walk with Jesus through my garden and ask him about the weed. So, I did just that. I stood with Jesus in my garden, asked how this resentment weed got there, and braced myself for a Freud-like psychoanalysis that would explain its origin. Instead, I felt him say matter-of-factly, "You let it grow." Immediately, I knew this was true. I couldn't blame my resentment weed on someone or something else. I had let it grow. I had watered it and cared for it, and now it was huge. It reminded me of a phenomenon I'd heard before, where people craft their own narratives by choosing to see and remember a small subset of reality. For example, a person reliving an experience may choose to re-tell only the traumatic portions of the event, ignoring all other aspects of the story. In doing so, their one-sided trauma narrative becomes more and more "true", thereby diminishing their ability to remember and experience other equally true aspects of the event. It became clear to me that I had let the resentment towards my friend grow by choosing to see a narrow portion of the larger narrative. I had watered this resentment weed by retelling myself a narrow story about her intentions and character, further blinding myself from a truer reality. Just as God sees beauty and purpose in rain clouds that I dread, I was beginning to understand that he sees more to my friend than I had through my narrow lens. I'm not sure all that God wants me to see in each circumstance I encounter, but I do feel a deeper sense that there is more to what he sees than I might perceive. Accepting an invitation from Him to open my eyes to a larger narrative will prevent me from growing weeds in my garden, yielding something far more fruitful and beautiful. ᐧ -Melanie M.