Working in My Yard Changed My Life for the Better

*I’m a Jesus-follower. As such, my language is that of a “Christian,” although I haven’t called myself that in quite some time. Please feel free to insert the language of your religion, or the lack thereof, throughout my post.

Often, I picture scenes from my life, as I work alone outside.

I remember sunny mornings helping my dad fix up our house.

He and my mom were going to live there for the rest of their married lives.

I travel to my grandma’s backyard and the brick patio where she kept beautifully potted plants and a little yellow bistro table.

She was going to pass it down to me some day.

Or the evenings I’d help my boyfriend scale fish after sitting out in a canoe all day doing absolutely nothing.

That boy and I were going to last forever.

I think about afternoons at the lake behind our college, kids jumping off the bridge after a six pack of beers and a super hard college algebra test.

All of us were invincible then.

There were days spent strolling my oldest son in his Jeep Cherokee stroller, all the young girls at the park stopping to ooh and ah over his precious dimples.

He would never grow up.

The lies I told myself back then weren’t lies when I was telling them.

I really thought my parents would stay married for good…until they divorced.

I wanted my grandmother’s table–and my grandmother–to stay young forever…until she died.

That boy and I were going to make it, come hell or highwater…until we broke up.

My college friends and I truly believed nothing bad could ever happen…until I lost two of them in a drunk driving accident.

And that little boy seemed to stay young for so long… until just like that, he was grown.

You find yourself thinking of days gone by a little more each year, the older you get.

When I’m out in my yard, I think of old days even more.

I ponder questions about why this thing or that was allowed to happen.

I often ask God if life is as it’s meant to be.

I tell myself that maybe it’s okay not to have all the answers.

And then I ask the questions all over again.

I pull up the many vines in my yard. They choke the life out of the good things, the beautiful things, that I would like to see blossom and shine.

It’s true in life, too, isn’t it? How often we let those weeds suffocate all that is good.

Regret, envy, comparison, malice, greed, lust. Our hedonistic hearts want all the things, and we want them now.

We think the tender shoots of youth will last forever and the flowers will never fade.

But they do.

The winter comes. Oh yes, it always comes.

With it come long nights.

Then barren days with no growth in sight.

We wonder how long the cold could possibly last.

The first few months of sobriety feels like the cold of winter.

It did for me, anyway. White-knuckling my way through afternoons. Breathing heavy when my husband ordered drinks at dinner. Declining party invitations and beach trips because I wasn’t ready to give up, but I knew I wasn’t strong enough to say no.

And we just about give up during the dark days of winter, don’t we? Trust me, no judgment here.

Then, before we realize it, the trees start to bloom again, the days last a little longer, and all of a sudden, we’re shedding the heavy coat of winter and stepping out in the new.

The sadness of death gives way to the gladness of rebirth.

And all is new again.

Summer arrives, and with it, confidence, freedom, joy.

We savor the long days.

We watch the stars.

We float on the water and listen to God speak in the waves.

Soon enough, the first leaf falls, and a new season begins again.

And like nature, the seasons of my life change the landscape of my heart, and I am still me, but new.

See you soon,


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