When Spring and Summer finally arrive after a long, harsh winter, I am all about being outdoors. There’s just something about being out in the sunshine and nature that soothes my soul. Since early Spring I’ve been planting flowers. No, that makes it sound too easy. I’ve been raking dead leaves, pulling out weeds, shoveling dirt and breaking my back so that I can plant beautiful flowers in my yard. You see, transformation takes work, pain, and loss. You have to dig out the weeds and make space for new life. Its the same in our hearts as it is in a garden - when we allow for suffering and change to happen, something beautiful is given the chance to bloom and grow.
Romans 8: 5-13 talks about the transformation that happens in our lives when we come to know Christ. We are given a new mind and a new being – meaning we no longer pursue sin or the deeds of the flesh, but rather our minds are set on the desires of God. But even though we are instantly united with Christ at salvation, there is still an ongoing work of transformation as long as we walk this earth.
That ongoing transformation is painful, involves loss, and requires work on our end too. That ongoing transformation is God’s way of making us more like Him. He’s constantly calling us to remove the dead leaves of our past, pull out the weeds of sin, and make space for new life – the new life that He has given us. That ongoing transformation is how we experience both new life and peace.
Transformation takes Work
I have a lot of weeds in my life. And the truth is, that most of the time I don’t want to do the work to dig them out. I don’t want to get dirty. I’m too lazy to dig down and pull them out by the root. And sometimes, it’s just too painful to even try. Sadly, though, because I’m not killing those weeds, they are killing me.
That’s right. How can a flower grow under dead leaves, choked out by weeds, and without water? The answer is that it can’t. And though I may fertilize my soul and water my heart with the truth of God’s word, it’s little use when I allow the weeds of my sin to keep stealing all the water and nutrition that’s being poured into me.
The weeds that I struggle with the most are the weeds that grow in my mind. You see, I struggle with depression. That means my mind runs automatically toward the negative. My reality is often distorted. I have low self-esteem. And I have a lot of negative self-talk. These weeds literally steal life from me. They zap my energy and tell me I’m worthless. They’ve even tempted me to take my own life.
But Romans 8 tells us that when we come to know Christ, we are no longer slaves to our sin. We have the power now to dig out the weeds that are choking us. We can see that they are harmful. And we know that if we aren’t killing them, they will be killing us.
Transformation is Painful
Anyone who’s ever worked outside in a yard or garden knows that it’s painful. That afternoon your back will be aching, your hips will be sore, and your legs will be tired. Creating something beautiful isn’t easy and it surely isn’t comfortable.
A lot of times as Christians, we miss that we are told to expect trials of many kinds.
James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We often think God is being cruel or unfair because life isn’t going as planned. When in reality, pain, hardship, even trials are evidence of God’s transforming work in our lives. It takes work and sometimes painful work for us to be transformed into a thing of beauty. But it’s necessary work and it’s God’s work.
Transformation means Loss
Whether it’s in our garden or in our lives, sometimes things have to be removed in order for new life to grow. We have to clear away the dead leaves, the dying plants, the old soil so that we can create something new there. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s unsettling. Especially since we can’t see the beauty yet that will emerge. We can only feel the reality of being stripped clean.
When we’re wondering why God is taking things away, why He is stripping us clean, we have to remember that God often takes away what we think is good, to give us what He knows is best.
For me, this looks like God taking away my normal mental faculties and giving me a brain that doesn’t work quite right. I wondered often in my twenties why God would give me a disease that caused me to be angry at Him and curse Him. But now I see how my faith has been deepened because of my depression. I know I am being transformed even though it means loss, pain, and a lot of hard work. I know that God’s trans-formative work is creating space for something beautiful to bloom and grow.
Transformation isn’t easy. But I believe that God can transform even the darkest, ugliest corners of my heart and yours. We just have to believe through the pain, trust despite what we see, and get out there and dig up those weeds!
What weeds are choking you out? Where are you resisting transformation in your life? Ask yourself this question: “What am I believing will give me life and peace (transformation) more than the Spirit of God?”
I’m Jenny Gericke, a writer, designer, God-follower, and new wife. I live in Atlanta, GA with my husband and our two cats – WilyKit and Tigger.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since my early 20s. I learned quickly that my mental illness impacted every area of my life – work, faith, and relationships. I also found that very few people understood what I was going through. Since then, I’ve committed to being open and vulnerable about my struggle with life, faith, mental illness, and purpose. I hope that my stories can encourage other women going through similar experiences.
I’m also an Interior Designer by trade and have worked with clients all over the United States, Europe and Asia – including commercial design for Starbucks, Belk, Toys-R-Us and many similar retailers. For the past few years, I’ve been working in residential and small commercial design. I’m also currently fixing up my husband’s childhood home, which we now live in.
My joy is inspiring others to live in the imperfection of life. Some of the happiest moments in my life were messy, ugly, and complicated. But I believe in the power of transformation – that broken things can be made beautiful again – both at home and in life!
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