I once lived in a house with a lawn of weeds. If I regularly mowed the weeds, keeping the lawn very short, it looked more or less green. But if I missed a mowing and let it grow at all, it became obvious to me, and to the neighbors, that my lawn was mostly weeds. Some of the weeds were benign—clover, for example. Others, like crabgrass and dandelions, were insidious, spreading quickly and easily getting out of control. How much nicer it would have been to have a lush green lawn consisting entirely of grass! I could have let it grow longer, enjoying both the way it looked and the way it felt to my bare feet, if I had been willing to do the work to remove the weeds and plant and nurture the grass.
Our lives are like the lawn. We may be living in denial, trying to hide our shortcomings, keeping them “in check,” so no one will know—even ourselves. But if an unexpected challenge occurs in our lives, we lose control and they quickly become obvious. Some of the shortcomings might be benign, not really affecting our quality of life too much, but others may quickly become unmanageable, seriously affecting our lives and our loved ones. How much better would it be to work with the Lord to remove the shortcomings and develop Christlike qualities that would then help us face challenges more successfully in the future?
Elder Bruce C. Hafen shared this metaphor in April 2004 General Conference:
“We grow in two ways—removing negative weeds and cultivating positive flowers. The Savior’s grace blesses both parts—if we do our part. First and repeatedly we must uproot the weeds of sin and bad choices. It isn’t enough just to mow the weeds. Yank them out by the roots, repenting fully to satisfy the conditions of mercy. But being forgiven is only part of our growth. We are not just paying a debt. Our purpose is to become celestial beings. So once we’ve cleared our heartland, we must continually plant, weed, and nourish the seeds of divine qualities. And then as our sweat and discipline stretch us to meet His gifts, ‘the flow’rs of grace appear,’ like hope and meekness.” (Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement:All for All,” Ensign, May 2004)
The interesting thing about letting the grass grow is that when the lawn is thick and healthy, the longer grass actually chokes out weed seedlings and keeps them from getting established. Of course, to keep it that way does require feeding, watering, and immediate removal of any weeds that do begin to grow.
Using the Steps to Pull the Weeds and Plant Grass
In our lives, we can choose to accept the Savior’s grace and help (steps 1-3) to identify our shortcomings (step 4 inventory). We can do the work of repentance (steps 5-10) to remove them. But that is not enough. Nature abhors a vacuum. If I pulled all the weeds out of my lawn but didn’t plant good grass seed I would quickly develop a new crop of weeds. We must plant the seeds of healthy habits and Christ-like attributes and nurture them through daily prayer, scripture study, personal revelation (step 11), service (step 12) and obedience.
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