Have I ever told you my analogy of the trellis? If I have, bear with me. I want to share it again because it’s meaningful and helpful to me right now. First I have to tell you how I came up with it.
Many years ago, my spiritual director, Sister Marie, told me I should read a book by Thomas Green called Weeds Among the Wheat. Being a good student, I got it right away and read it. It revolutionized my spiritual life.
He makes his essential point from the Jesus’ parable of the weeds among the wheat. A farmer finds out an enemy has sown weeds among his wheat. His workers’ first reaction is to go and pull out all the weeds. The farmer tells them not to. He advises that they allow the weeds and the wheat to grow together because if they pull up the weeds they will also accidentally pull up the wheat with them. He tells them that they will be separated at the harvest. Green suggests that this does not only apply to communities that want to separate the good people from the bad. It also applies to our personal lives. We should not try to eradicate those areas of our lives we are unhappy with by violently trying to overcome them. He says we need to be patient and gracious with ourselves because he believes there is a symbiotic relationship between what we perceive is good and what we perceive is bad about ourselves. In fact, to believe we can get to a place of absolute purity and doing things to ourselves to achieve it is impossible. I liked this because I used to be very brutal, relentlessly unforgiving, terribly impatient, and even cruel to myself.
I’ve kept a journal for decades. Thinking that I’ve progressed on the road to perfection, I would then glance back years in my journal and would be surprised to find that I really haven’t changed at all. Oh, there were minor tweaks here and there, little adjustments to who I perceived I was. But I was still David, the same old me, deep down inside.
I have a friend who is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever met. Truly a remarkable player. In fact, he’s famous in my city. And he knows it. He struggles with pride. I was his pastor for years and would hear is continuous confession that he struggled with his pride. On the other hand, he is one of the most humble people I know. It was then that I realized that it was his pride that was making him humble. It was his self-awareness that he was proud that caused his humility to grow. As his awareness of his pride grew, so did his humility.
So this is my analogy: what we perceive are our weaknesses behave like trellises up which what we believe are our virtues grow. Take away the pride and the humility goes with it because there would be no need for the humility to exist there. The same can be applied to any number of what we think are our weaknesses.
It’s like our weaknesses are the shadows of our strength.
I’m feeling this right now. I have a deep passion for the unity of the human race to be made manifest. I want to work for the unity of all people. Of course, I know this starts with me. I think this is a strength. However, on the other hand, I know I have a deep need to be loved by everyone and keeping everyone happy. So here is what I think is a strength: bravely working for unity and peace. And this is what I think is my weakness: not being able to handle criticism, conflict, and personal attacks very well. As nakedpastor gets more and more popular, I get more and more afraid because of the personal attacks I receive. But if I tried to overcome this need to be loved and didn’t care about the feelings of others, maybe I wouldn’t care about peace or unity or love at all. Maybe it is in fact my need for love that drives me to see it in the whole world between all people. I don’t know. It’s just a guess.
Anyway, I hope you find this helpful. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Be gracious. We all have a dark side. We all have a light side. We all have trellises. We all have flowers. We all have weeds. We all have wheat.
Let’s love ourselves for it.
Peace and love!