The past few days it was driving Ted crazy that he hadn’t had a chance to give our lawn it’s first cut of the season.
Alas, yesterday the stars aligned for him and he went out to cut it. I didn’t pay much attention but noticed him going up and down in the backyard.
Later in the evening we took the dogs for a little walk and as we were coming back up the driveway, I noticed Ted hadn’t mowed the front lawn.
I was perturbed by this in a mild way, because the front is the part that everyone looks at. Why not take the time to make that part look nice?
Honestly, even though we spend all of our time in the backyard, I would have preferred for Ted to have mowed the front…the part that is supposed to be picture perfect. The part that everybody sees and drives by and judges the beauty of our house on.
This morning as I sat in the dark watching the sun peek its face up, I went back to thinking about the lawn.
I think we all have an inner front yard and backyard.
The front yard is the part everybody sees. I’m a perfectionist so that is what I’d like everyone to notice – my perfection.
I would like you to see my perfectly manicured children and marriage.
I want you to admire that the simple everyday life – like grass – is mowed and maintained with impeccable lines…
By this I mean, things like a clean house, children who are obedient on the first request, the most well-behaved dogs that don’t annoy you in the slightest.
Also, a woman who always prays about things and calmly waits for God to work, a woman who never has a temper or is impatient, a woman who adores putting her kids to bed even if she is exhausted and it is a two hour process.
A woman who always goes to bed with a clean kitchen. These things are regularly mowed and on display.
And finally, I’d love for you to admire the pops of color in that perfectly manicured garden.
You know, the exceptionally fun things that I do, or the accolades I receive, the pats on the back for something well done, my life impacting other lives for good, etc.
All of these attention-seeking things seem to solidify that our garden is beautiful. No. The whole house is beautiful. Our house is serene and ideal and you should mark it as one you aspire to have in your own life.
Now, to get to my real backyard, though, there is a short little walkway that you can complete in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you are walking into our real life, where we spend most of our days.
If you walk around it, there are definitely beautiful things. Not perfect, but beautiful.
We have really pretty gardens with this one little section being my most favorite of all, especially in spring.
You see colorful flowers, a warm fire-pit to sit around, a fun balcony on top of our shed for the kids to play on, a big yard where we can run with the dogs or play different yard games.
It is a fun backyard.
If you look closer, though, you will see that a lot of what appears to be vibrant green grass is actually weeds. From afar it appears lovely, but up close it isn’t all that it seems.
Plus, you will notice so many dirt patches. Places where the grass seed has just struggled to take root and flourish.
You’d see some dog crap. Crap that we were just too lazy to deal with at the moment or we didn’t see it or we didn’t have the tools/bags to pick it up.
The balcony is built with unfinished, unsanded wood so be careful lest you get a splinter. The stairs leading up to it are uneven in spacing.
The bottom landing is just a pile of stones we threw down so that it was simply doable to hold the base of the stairs.
There are holes in the ground from stakes that we put in to hold chicken wire. We were trying to fix the dirt patch problems so we attempted this solution.
The holes represent our failed attempt to fix something. Our failed attempt at perfection.
I’m going to stop there because I could get really nit-picky.
There’s a short walk in my heart too.
In a blink of an eye
you go from my attempt at the perfection
that I want you to see
to my backyard
where there are things I’m hiding.
This is where I really live.
This is a more accurate portrayal of who I am.
But you are a guest and need to be invited back there.
It is filled with beautiful things as well, like a loving husband, three stepkids who never questioned me entering their lives, a daughter who adores me.
If I force myself to say it, my backyard has colorful bits of my personality…I’m funny, caring, sensitive…Just like Ted did his best to build a balcony (which is awesome), I do my best in life.
It’s not perfect but I tried. And God sees that I try.
There are good things in my backyard. But look closer and you will also see the flaws. The ones I would never allow in my front yard.
You see me enjoying me kids, but in my backyard my ‘green’ isn’t all grass.
Look closer you will see a stepmother trying to omit the ‘step’.
You will see a wife who fights being a wife so she pushes her husband away with silence.
You will see a mom who snaps at her daughter because I’m scared of raising a ‘bad’ kid.
You will see a woman who really wants her own way…a lot.
You will see dirt patches where I have attempted to grow patience and acceptance and vulnerability but the seeds are struggling to take root and flourish.
And oh the dog crap. Issues I know I need to work on but I’m too lazy. Or things I don’t even see that I should do. Or things I know I need to deal with but I don’t have the tools…where to start?
So much of me is unfinished, unsanded, unrefined…I’m scared if you get too close to me you might get a splinter. It’s best if you just don’t go there.
And the holes. So many holes that represent my failed attempts to fix something. Holes dug with tears and pain.
And finally, there is one more place.
Yesterday we dug up this part of grass by our shed to put in a new garden but we took the extra grass and dirt and threw it behind the shed. That’s where the really ugly stuff goes.
It’s also where nobody goes except me.
Even in my heart, there is a place where nobody goes except me. I don’t even want Ted to look back there.
Perhaps this is why I give him the silent treatment. I don’t want to open my mouth and let him see how ugly I can be. I keep him at arms distance and stop him from knowing me. Really knowing me.
Can you see this in yourself? What does your yard look like? Are there places you don’t want people to look to close or even see at all?
The good thing is, there is a landscaping expert out there.
We finally broke down last fall and called someone to come and help us. They have the wisdom, the tools, the passion, the time.
They enjoy helping people get the best lawn possible.
All these things describe God, too. He’s in the landscaping business. He has the wisdom, the tools, the passion for me – for you, and the time. He enjoys helping us become the best people possible.
Do you hear that? He ENJOYS helping us.
I will put a few verses at the end but pay attention to the love and compassion that He has to help us flourish.
the first place He put humans
was a beautiful garden.
He wants to get us back there.
But He can’t work His magic until I break down and ask Him to come help me. He’s sitting by the phone.
You too. He wants your call. Maybe He’s even sitting in His work truck. He’s ready to go. Let Him into your yard. Let Him restore you. He’ll work with the beauty that’s already there and bring the rest to life.
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.[a]
“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.