With a large rural acreage, there is always something a gardener is fighting. Sometimes it is a grasshopper invasion. This past year it has been wild hogs and gophers. Currently our battle has targeted the extremely persistent sandbur patches. After several years of serious spraying, we are making great progress against these painful little stickers. Yet, patches of them keep popping up and it takes a vigilant eye to detect the grass-imitating plants and dig them out before they release the dried stickers to pollute the yard all over again.
Yesterday, as I was searching with shovel in hand, I had a realization. The problematic patches congregate in the areas that do not have solid ground cover. The bare spots, caused by all the recent upheaval of home improvements, had nothing to occupy the space. It is in these areas of vulnerability where weedy problems flourish.
My friends, it is not so different with people. Lives filled with meaning tend not to have so many vulnerabilities. A child who has a purpose usually performs better in school, uses his time more wisely, and has a longer vision. A young person who feels that others depend on her will usually rise to the occasion, discover hidden strengths, and grow her self-confidence.
Contrast that with the child with little to occupy his time, nothing important to think about and no one who needs him. This often sets the stage for boredom, wasting time, poor performance, getting lost in the fake worlds of video games or social media, conspicuous consumption or dangerous experimentation.
Like our lawns, our children’s schedule need to be carefully planted, lovingly fertilized, wisely monitored, and gently encouraged. With just enough of the right things taking root in their hearts, the good things will grow and fill their world without the constant fight of predatory weeds.
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