Weeds get kind of a bad reputation in the Bible. In the parable of the seed, the weeds choke the life out of all the good little seed that God's growing. In the words of promise of the time to come, the weeds are harvested with the grain, then separated and burned. But buried in here also is a word of caution for all of us, and it's worth noting. Specifically, I'm referring to when God advises you to...
...leave the weeds alone.
This is in that second-referenced verse above, where He speaks about the day coming when the weeds and the wheat will be harvested together and then separated. If you try to pull the weeds up right now, you end up uprooting some of the good crop, too. So the only way to make sure you get a harvest at all is to let the weeds alone, lest you ruin everything.
It's amusing to me sometimes how many people think I just grew up this way. That I grew up going to church and learning about God and loving the Lord. I'm so darned good at it now. Or something. I guess. So they think I've been doing this my whole life and that my whole story is some kind of nice, neat felt board in the Sunday school room. When they find out it's not quite so pretty, there are those who are far-too-anxious to want to pull me up. There are those that have tried.
I've been told there's not a place for me in God's church (in various, very specific contexts by persons who considered their context "God's church") because they found out I'm just a weed. It's painful. It hurts. And you know what? It also hurts the harvest - for a couple of reasons. First, other weeds are watching what you do to the weeds in your field. If you're too anxious to start pulling them up, they aren't even going to come in. You're never going to get these non-native plants in your soil. Second, just as Jesus spoke, the wheat sometimes gets offended, too, when you start churning the soil too much. When you start making too many rules about who can and cannot come in, when you start to spend a little too much time tending your fields, people get nervous. They get antsy.
Because on some level, we're all weeds. And there's no one more aware of that than ourselves, every time we look in the mirror.
If it's not the people who think there's no place for weeds, it often goes to the other extreme - those who are convinced that weeds must be flowers. Or weeds must be wheat. For as many people as I've had who have wanted me out of the church because I'm too messy, I have had far more who wanted me out of my mess because I'm in the church.
They've encouraged me to forget my story, to leave it behind. To move on. To embrace who I am in God today, who God continues to shape me to be. What they forget is that who I am today in God is a reflection on the journey He and I have had together. It's a reflection on the winds that have carried me and dropped me in this field in this season at this time. I can't just forget who I was because it's woven into the fabric of who I am, and if I don't have my story, I'm not the same person that I am today. So that doesn't work either.
Weeds have kind of a bad reputation, but there's nothing really wrong with being a weed. If nothing else, being a weed reminds me how completely improbable I am, which draws me back into the heart of the God who loves me and scatters such rogue seed on the wind. It reminds me how resilient I am, able to put down roots in the hardest of soil, in the smallest of places, and stake my claim. It reminds me of how unexpected I am. Nobody, I don't think, plans for an Aidan here, but here I am. And it's amazing how I got here. And it reminds me how alien I am - this world is not my home. I am, by my very nature, a non-native species in this fallen, broken world. I am the seed of Heaven, sown on a holy wind, growing here anyway and sometimes, sometimes...
...I'm even mistaken for a flower.
But don't be fooled. I'm just a weed.