This week, in the midst of getting prepped & ready for another year of homeschooling my K-8 crew, I realized that the back yard needed a bit of attention. Ok, so maybe it needed a lot of attention. The grass had grown to a point that it was two feet high in some areas and was nearly impossible for the toddler to play out there. (an essential aspect of homeschooling when you have little ones underfoot is having a safe place to “shoo” them off to so you can spend some time attempting to teach in the short spurts you have available)
I kept hoping that my dear darling hubby would get to it and of course he would have…”sooner or later” (with later being the most probable) – but as is always the case at this time of year, he is fully immersed in the beginning of school (lesson plans, chapel scheduling, school camp preparations) and he is a coach for the JV Volleyball team which keeps him gone at practices and games until dusk almost daily.
So today, I stopped “hoping” and “wishing”, accepted the fact that I am a “coaching widow” once again this fall and got up and got going on the lawn (aka: jungle). It took me three hours! Between the blade continually getting stuck because the grass was still a bit damp and way too long, having to empty the grass catcher with every strip of lawn mowed, running over toys that were hidden so deep that there was no way I could have found them and having to actually mow the lawn twice – first on a higher setting and then on the normal height.
The results –
- an overflowing garbage can filled with just the grass cut today
- a very sunburned, hand blistered, sweaty, sore and tired lady
- a mostly yellow lawn for the next few days – since what is now showing has never seen the sun (but it is a great homeschool lesson in photosynthesis…right?)
- a 10 year old who got a little training in lawn mowing
- a newly cut lawn (although not anywhere close to my dear darling hubby’s high standard of lawn mowing, edging, trimming, raking etc… but hey it is done!)
- a little boy who can happily play ball in the yard again
While mowing I had lots of time for reflection (after all there is not much else you can do while mowing the lawn except think). I began wondering why we let the backyard lawn get to this point. We certainly never allow our front yard to be knee high in length with weeds growing wild. Although on occasion the front yard may be a little overdue for mowing, it never comes close to looking like a cross between a jungle and an abandoned field. Why is this? It didn’t take long for me to come up for many reasons:
- We would not want to suffer the embarrassment (shame?) of having others see our unkempt yard
- We would not want others to “talk about” us or think badly of us
- We would not want our neighbors to be unhappy or frustrated or wish we would move
- We would not want to get fined (even though our home owners association would require it to get really really bad and give us several warnings before they fined us)
Thus the front yard is regularly mowed and maintained while the backyard at times is left alone to become ugly and unusable. Isn’t that often times just like our own lives? We want to “look good” on the outside where others can see and yet in the “backyard” of our hearts we are letting things get out of control and wild.
Truly everything we do to mess up our lives, hurt others or sin against God….begins in our hearts & minds. Before we ever perform an action that destroys ourselves or our relationship with others or God…we have thought about doing it and instead of regularly maintaining our thought life and our heart attitudes we spend most of our time trying to look good to others. Whether it is looking good by ….
- obtaining “things” like houses, cars or other “toys”
- having the right physical shape and wearing chic styles
- going to the top college, obtaining degrees or having a great job
- being in a position of influence, power and authority
- having perfectly dressed children who are involved in all the latest and greatest activities or sports
- going to church every Sunday
- volunteering your time and giving your money to charity
- and the list goes on….
Now just like having and taking care of your “front yard” – these pursuits and accomplishments are not bad in themselves but if the “backyard” -our hearts and minds – are filled with thoughts and attitudes that are “ugly” (bad, wrong, sinful, evil) then what have we really gained? We may have fooled everyone around us with our fabulous outward appearance but we cannot fool God.
“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
We may “have it all” or at least attempt to “have it all” in this life….but will we lose out in the end?
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul ?” Mark 8:36
While we may be able to look good on the outside, God knows our hearts and in the end we will answer to Him. We need to spend time maintaining our hearts and minds with regular care. We can do this by bringing them under the control of God through prayer, confession, reading and obeying the Word. And it would probably help if we regularly let others into the “backyard” of our hearts and minds as a motivation and accountability to keep things under control.
Let me begin by being vulnerable myself and invite you into my backyard today and share with you some of my heart attitudes and thoughts that I need to get under control –
These are all things that I need to confess and give over to the Lord as well as turning from by practicing patience, humility, contentedness and self control.
Perhaps we all might spend a little bit more time working in and concentrating on developing the backyard in our lives. The benefits would truly be life changing and eternal.
Wow….who knew how cathartic mowing the lawn could be?