I am not a gardener, nor do I have much of a green thumb. I have two houseplants that I’ve miraculously not killed after having them for nearly three months. I will periodically spray them with water when I remember, which is maybe twice a week. However, few years ago, a friend gave me a pulled up piece of mint from her yard in a ziplock bag. I skeptically buried the thin, dirty greenish-white root under a layer of mulch, leaving the few minty smelling leaves above ground. That mint took to the ground almost immediately, and after a few months, the whole 4’x4′ area behind my house was a minty fresh bounty of those hearty, weed-like plants. Today, I decided that it was time to rip them all out. I left one plant to survive in a pot, because, other than homemade mint ice cream or mojitos, I am fairly positive I will never have a use for it all. Plus, it was starting to creep behind the trash and recycle bins, and looked like a gnarly tangle of dried up, withered stems and some purply-tinged green mint leaves; wild and unkempt. The older shoots were no longer even edible. I donned my bright pink galoshes, my gardening gloves, and with a three-pronged cultivator rake in my hand, I proceeded to hack at the ground. With each pull of the cultivator, I’d rip up at least three or four roots. It was so satisfying when I was able to yank up a root with my hands that didn’t snap. Those whole roots were at least two or three feet long, with mint sprouts running along the whole length. There was an entire network of roots underground that intersected through that whole mulched section, and had even forged their way under and around the A/C unit. Some roots had even become hard and woody, very unlike the pliable, pale green shoot from when I first planted the mint.
I was thinking that my thoughts can be like that mint. Things that I can allow myself to focus on and then become angry and callous. Thoughts about past relationships that spring up without prompting, even though they’re buried deep. Those negative thoughts of feeling unworthy and ashamed, feelings of regret and of heartbreak. They can all choke out the life God intends for us to have. None of our past mistakes, bad decisions, or poor choices define us. God freely forgives, never bringing up that which we wish we could forget. His grace, mercy, and ever-pursuing love and redemption are what defines us. If we hand Him the cultivator, He will set to work on our hearts, turning the soil into soft ground, and will rip out those thoughts that have been growing for way too long.