When I say “act like a teenage girl,” what picture comes to mind? I know that all teenage girls aren’t the same, but when you say that here (and it’s all one word in Jula – sunguruyake), it conveys the image of a girl dressing up all fancy, putting on makeup, flirting, trying to catch a guy or hang onto the one she’s got, and things worse that I don’t feel like mentioning here. But I think you get the picture. It must be the same picture all over the world, even if the cultural trappings that go with it are different.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what acting like a teenage girl has to do with a bean field. Everything. And it also has to do with our Christian walk. Keep reading and you’ll hopefully understand.
This last trip out to the village I spent 4 mornings weeding my peanut and bean fields. The nice thing was that it felt like it was something that I knew how to do, since I was supposed to just pull out the weeds like in the US. The difference is what you’ll notice in the picture – that you bend at the waist, not the knees, as in most everything here.
But when I was getting ready to weed my beans (my field is in the second picture. In the first I’m weeding my peanuts), my host mom gave me advice. As best as I could understand, she told me to weed them, but to not try to take out every single weed. I was supposed to leave a few weeds to help the beans grow.
WHAT?!? Yes, she said that if all the weeds were pulled out, the bean plants would feel like they had lots of space and so would “act like a teenage girl.” Sunguruyake. They’d produce lots of pretty leaves and branches and grow big and beautiful, wanting people to look at them and admire them. But they’d never get around to having kids. (Ok, so in Jula, the word for “kids” can be used for lots of things – the fruit of the tree, the beans from the bean plant, the tomatoes from the tomato plant, etc., as well as your own kids.)
However, she said, if a few weeds were left in the field, the bean plants wouldn’t feel like they were living such a carefree life, and instead of acting like teenage girls, they’d get to work having kids – producing good beans to eat.
So yes, I weeded my bean field of the big weeds, but made sure to leave some weeds so that my bean plants would produce well.
Is this true? I thought about asking for a second opinion, but as I thought of how this applies to our Christian lives, it was too beautiful of an illustration to let a second opinion ruin it quite yet.
You see, our lives are like those bean plants. And God is like the good gardener. He carefully removes many, many weeds (trials and pain and struggles and such) from our lives. But He lovingly leaves a few of the weeds, knowing that if our life was totally carefree and easy we’d focus on exterior things and making ourselves look good before others. But if we live with a few weeds in our lives, it will help us focus on what’s important – producing fruit, such as the fruit of the Spirit.
Wow, so true, and such a beautiful way to look at the struggles in our lives – they are purposefully left there by a loving God Who knows what’s best for us.
For example, my last day in the village I was driving my moto back from a field with my host mom’s daughter on the back and a sack of corn in between my legs, and we fell in the loose sand. We were all ok and got back up and continued on, but I saw it as one of these weeds that God lovingly allowed in my life. Even though many people here fall in the sand on their motos at one time or another, I hadn’t yet. And I had started to think that I was a pretty good moto driver and never would. Other people would, but not me! Bam. God knew that that was me, acting like a teenage girl, thinking of how good I looked on the outside. So He allowed this little weed into my life, to remind me that I’m no better than anyone else, and to help me have a right view of myself – producing good and pleasing fruit.
What are some weeds that God has lovingly chosen to leave in the bean field of your life? How are they helping you focus less on exterior appearances and more on what really matters?