Some people probably wonder why I take such confidence in describing myself as a "mean little weed." No, they say. You're a beautiful little flower. A delicate flower. A budding beautiful child of God.
Not really. But that's more horticology than I really want to get into right now.
What we really have to do is start with an actual definition of a weed and go from there. Most of us are used to dealing with weeds as nuisances - things that pop up in our flower beds and ruin our landscaping, crab grass and cattails that grow in the yard, or even in the case of the parable of the seed, those horrible little things that choke out all the good things growing around them. These are all weeds, but they are practical encounters with weeds. At their very base, weeds are simply this: invasive species.
They're the things that crop up where you didn't plant them, the things that grow where you wouldn't expect them to grow. Often, they are not native to the ground they're growing in, but they grow there anyway, sown by the wind.
And a lot of weeds are beautiful. If you've ever driven through the mountains of eastern Tennessee, you've seen all these beautiful purple, yellow, blue, and white flowers standing tall along the side of the road. They're eye-catching and yes, even breath-taking. But go home and search the internet for them, and you will find that they are classified...as weeds.
Are they any less beautiful now that they are weeds and not really flowers? No. (But they're a little disappointing. I'll come back to this.)
That's why I'm so willing, so quick, even, to describe myself as a weed. I'm an invasive species. I've cropped up in a place where I was never really planted, sown here by the winds of whatever this life may bring. I'm not part of the landscaping; it doesn't look like there should probably be an Aidan right here in the middle of all this, but here I am. I've grown where I don't think many would have expected me to grow, even though it's hard for most of them to imagine their garden without me at this point. Against all odds, here I am.
And yet, I might also be beautiful. When I say that I'm a weed, I'm not putting myself in the same category as crab grass. I'm not here to take over the lawn. Rather, I'm thinking of those flowers that dot the landscape in the mountains, the tall beauties that line the edge of the roads. I'm thinking about those little specks of color that you can't help but notice and wonder about. What are those?
Those are me.
If you dig into my story and discover all the little truths about it, discover the hard ground, discover the difficult seasons, discover the non-native seed that brought all this about, and if you discover in all that digging that I'm really just a weed, am I any less beautiful? I don't think so.
A little disappointing, maybe.
And here's what's disappointing about it, going back to those weed-flowers on the sides of the road: we can't figure out how to do weeds. We can't figure out how to cultivate them. I don't know how many times I've heard someone fall in love with a weed, only to discover that it's a weed and then not know how they could actually incorporate that weed into their landscaping and get it to grow the way that they want to. I don't know how many times I've talked to people who want those little purple, yellow, blue, and white flowers in their own gardens but don't know how to make them grow there.
I don't know how many times I've had people ask me how my story even works. Because I think we all look around and see potential weeds, and we aren't sure how to make them grow. It's frustrating! And disappointing. Because we have to resign ourselves to knowing that the only thing that makes a weed work is really the wind.
I'm a weed because God makes me work here. He makes this possible. I can't explain how my story works. I can't walk you through ten steps to cultivating a weed. I can't tell you how to approach the non-native seeds in your life, the ones you ache for, the ones you pray for, the ones you long for. But I can stand on the side of this mountain, rise from the cracks in the sidewalk, and tell you, at least, that it's possible. It's possible for weeds to grow up and yes, even to be beautiful.
Because I'm a mean little weed.