The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Prov. 20:5)
As a new and reluctant gardener, I’ve pulled up my share of the baby plants we were trying to nurture. But my biggest mistake has been leaving the roots of the intruders I’m trying to eliminate. When we moved into our new home a few years ago, I wrote a blog about learning to pull the weeds along my drive. I’m still practicing. And in the process, I’ve learned something about myself and about the profession of counseling which I am practicing, as well.
Christians have been slow, in general, to embrace counseling as a meaningful part of spiritual growth and discipleship. Some would say that all you need to live a healthy life is Scripture. You don’t need psychology or drugs or hours spent gazing at your own navel. Others would say that what you need is to grow a pair. Change that behavior. In fact, just “Stop It!” (Love that video.) So the weeds have taught me why that’s not necessarily so.
Sometimes people find they can easily pull a weed from their lives, just change one simple thing. I’ve had family members who quit smoking one day and never looked back. But it’s more often true that changing one simple thing is not so simple. In giving up smoking a person finds they must substitute another habit or else give in to chronic irritability. Then comes the realization that those habits have been medicating some kind of anxiety. The weed had a root which went deeper than they anticipated.
And when they start tugging on that sucker, they find it goes a long way underground. For example, anxiety can be touched off by a difficult childhood which trains the developing brain to scan the environment for threats, to anticipate anger or unhappiness or need. That fearful vigilance becomes a lifelong coping mechanism. So the roots have roots. And it’s not until you remove or treat the nodes at the end of those long roots that you can be reasonably sure the same weed won’t show up next season in some other spot.
Good counselors are like experienced gardeners; they can advise you which weeds are likely to have roots and help you set about uncovering them. Counseling isn’t a bad place to get some support while you pull one small invader from the garden of your life, but if you don’t need help, that’s great. However, if the weed you pull leaves its hidden tentacles to grow again in your mind or heart, consider a trip to the garden center. Because sometimes the roots have roots.
Check out this fun blog by someone who really does know her way around a garden: http://www.barbedwirebrowns.blogspot.com/