Tag Archives: life

Gardening illustration that works for persistent problems in life

5 years ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted some purple cone flowers for my flower garden around my house.

Having admired them in other gardens, I said yes and promptly planted them in a spot next to some other flowers. Turns out they were Brown Eyed Susans, a relative of the intended flower. And, further, they spread terribly. I enjoyed them the first summer but began ripping them out the next year as they spread through the iris and choked out some other plantings.

Now, some five years later, I am still pulling these plants. They grow and spread quickly. I never let them flower but pull them as soon as I can make sure I get them and not another plan that might be right in the same spot. When I pull them I know that some little root fiber remains and so I’ll be back pulling again in a week or so.

The truth is I will never be free from these plantings. I do have some choices:

  • ignore them and let them take over the garden (BTW, they would be fine in an isolated spot surrounded by grass so they couldn’t take over another planted area)
  • be irritated that I can’t get rid of them and thus fail to see the beauty around them
  • stay vigilant but enjoy the garden
  • try shock and awe by killing everything in that spot.

I find this is much like our persistent life problems. Whether by naive choice or by something beyond our control, we develop persistent struggles with things like anxiety, depression, addictions, relational challenges, etc. While God sometimes provide miraculous removal of these struggles, we rarely find complete freedom from these kinds of struggles. We may not be in crisis mode forever, but total relaxation and assumption of no return of the problem is rare also.

So, we too have some choices:

  • be angry and bitter that the problem continues to have some place in our life
  • blame others for our problems
  • ruminate on why only we seem to have these problems
  • try shock and awe and so destroy lots of other things
  • accept the need to stay vigilant, going after the roots and shoots as soon as we notice them.

Does this illustration work for you?


Filed under addiction, Anxiety, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, counseling, Depression

Evaluating your life: Are you satisfied?

If you are in the Eastern part of of the US, you probably got an opportunity to feel some warmth, shed some layers, and see small signs of Spring. Its hard not to feel just a little less dismal about life. So, in honor of impending Spring, I’m going to post a few times this week about the continuous evaluations we make about life and their impact on our experience and feelings about said life.

Are you satisfied?

Just how would you go about answering that question? The very idea of satisfaction brings up many questions. What does satisfaction look and feel like? How does it differ from peace, hope, joy, contentment, etc.? Is it a feeling? A conclusion? What areas of life are we talking about?

Despite these many questions, part of the curse of living in Western culture is that we are taught to obsessively evaluate our lives and question if we are getting all that is available to us. (I’ve written in the past about tendency for individuals in my program to rate their optimism high but their happiness low–a sign of discontentment but hope for the future).

Of course, repeated evaluations generally lead to a sense of missing out on some important part of life (isn’t that what advertising is all about?)

What lack do you use to evaluate your life?

Most of us know we lack something that many others have. We may indeed have many good things–things that others would grab in a heartbeat. But those things we take for granted while we ruminate on what we wish for. “If only I had…then I would be able to…”

What is on your list? Home ownership? Education? Sex? Being pursued by someone? Children? Successful career? How does the lack you perceive you have shape your sense of life satisfaction? What does it cause you to ignore (or diminish) in your life that is blessing you?

Changing the criteria

If you have ever travelled to a part of the world where it is obvious that you are wealthy in comparison, you know that such an experience immediately changes your focus and evaluation. You see immense blessings. You feel guilty for spending 3 bucks on a coffee when someone in front of you hasn’t eaten for 3 days.

So, what might you use this week to change your focus? How might you look more at what you have rather than put your hopes in what you do not have but want so very much? How is God sustaining and enriching your life even though a desire you have (quite possibly a very holy desire) has not been satisfied?

Concluding thought

Satisfaction is not some higher plane of life; a nirvana. It happens in fleeting moments. We live with unmet desire but also with opportunities for pleasure and contentment. Challenge yourself to notice satisfying moments and take pleasure in them by engaging in thankful meditation.


Filed under christian psychology, Christianity, church and culture, Cultural Anthropology, Desires, Mindfulness