I have a parable for you today. We just finished seeding at the farm I help out at. My job was to do the cultivating ahead of the seeder, knocking down the weeds and volunteer growth while at the same time preparing the seed bed. I suppose that may in part be what got my mind going this way.
There was a farmer who loved his land. A farmer loving the land is nothing exceptional, but this farmer was especially passionate about his land and took great care to make sure it was in pristine condition. He didn’t have much land, just one field, but he loved to stand at the end of that field and see the perfectly straight furrows stretch into the distance.
But if a weed should appear, that feeling of pride and satisfaction in his land was turned on its head and in frustration he would jump into his tractor and drag his cultivator through the land, back and forth until the soil was clear and even again, and his anger subsided. But if the next day another weed popped up back to the cultivator he would go.
H e was so obsessed with keeping his field in perfect condition that he didn’t notice that each time he ran the cultivator over it the field dried out a little bit more. Every pass broke down the natural fibres and proteins in the soil that held it together as the shovels on the cultivator raked across it. The soil was becoming sandy, and though it was clean and even, it was dying.
Then the heat of summer came and the temperatures soared for two weeks straight, and with it came the scorching winds. Still a couple of hardy weeds managed to struggle up in the field and the farmers frustration flared again. But as he ripped into the soil once more the wind began to blow it away.
There simply wasn’t enough left in the soil to hold it together, and as the first grains began to fly it almost seemed like the field finally just gave up. More and more soil was lifted into the air as the hot wind blew across field. The small cloud picked up speed and momentum gathering more and more particles with it until the whole field was turned into a dust storm that blew across the prairies. And when the storm was over the farmer was left with a barren empty wasteland.
Sadly, this is a picture of the way some people relate to those who are closest to them. And what happened to that farmer’s land is what happens to husbands or wives or children when perceived imperfections are jumped on and they get raked by the one who ought to be, and maybe even intends to be nurturing.
To one degree or another we have all done this. It seems to happen most easily when other stresses come into our lives. Whether it be pressures of work, or responsibilities, or bad news, or just lack of sleep, that seems to be when we most quickly jump on our cultivators.
So how do we stop? The first step is to be honest enough to recognize yourself in this story. Then be honest and courageous enough to talk with the one or ones you have been slowly breaking down. Humble yourself and be open and vulnerable with them and tell them you are anxious, or hurting, or scared.
In my experience, that kind of courage only comes when you have received it from Jesus. When you realize that he loved you when you were at your worst and you allow him to express that love to you, he gives you the strength and will to risk being open and honest with those you love.