Nov 22, 2023 650 Dina Mananquil Delfino, Australia

Time to Weed-out

Weeding can be tedious, but it is a good exercise not just for your body but for your soul! 

After many excuses to avoid cleaning up my backyard, I had to face the truth that it needed clearing badly. I was fortunate that my hubby was in a good mood to help, so together, we spent one day of our Christmas break uprooting the unwanted invaders.

Little did I know, there was a divine purpose to the exercise. As I started to break the hard yakka’s further growth with my left-over strength from the holiday gatherings, it filled me with so much joy, although it was not very fun at the start.

An Inevitable Confrontation

As I diligently hand-pulled and hoed the weeds, the workout led me to reflect on my spiritual health. How healthy have I been spiritually? 

I experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus, had my Baptism in the Spirit in 2000, and I have had many humbling privileges and opportunities to become a better person, through the leading of the Holy Spirit. There were many “ouch” moments of growth that challenged me to work harder, not so much in trying to perfect myself (for there is no such thing as perfection here on earth), but yes, getting closer in holiness in my walk with God was possible every day, as long as I tried. But have I really worked hard towards this goal? The pandemic had detracted me from my focus, as I got immersed instead in fear, anxiety, uncertainty, grief, and bereavement for friends and community who lost loved ones, jobs, property, and peace. 

During my garden spruce up, I was confronted by weeds of various kinds. A weed is “a plant that causes economic losses or ecological damages, creates health problems for humans or animals, or is undesirable where it is growing.”

One by One

There was the Field Bindweed, a hardy perennial vine that has been given many names. Google says that, unfortunately, tilling and cultivation seem to aid Bindweed spread. The best control is early intervention. Seedlings must be removed before they become perennial. After that, buds are formed, and successful control gets more difficult.  

Lord, what is in me that is like the Bindweed? Pride, lust, lies, offense, arrogance, or prejudice? 

Then, there is the Quackgrass—a creeping and persistent perennial grass that reproduces by seeds. Its long, jointed, straw-colored rhizomes form a heavy mat in the soil, from which new shoots may also appear. We are advised to dig out this fast-growing grass as soon as we see it in our gardens, being sure to dig up the entirety of the plant (including the roots) and to dispose of it in our waste bin rather than the compost pile, as it will likely continue to grow in the latter! 

Lord, what is my Quackgrass? Gossip, envy, malice, jealousy, materialism, or laziness? 

This next weed I truly dislike. Canada thistle is an aggressive and creeping perennial weed from Eurasia. It infests crops, pastures, ditch banks, and the roadside. If it becomes rooted, experts say that the best control is to stress the plant and force it to use stored root nutrients. Yet, believe it or not, this weed is edible! 

Lord, what is my Canada thistle? Which are the sins that I can turn to fruitful outputs? Stress, worry, anxiety, control, over-confidence, or self-sufficiency?

Nutsedges are perennial weeds that superficially resemble grasses, but they are thicker, stiffer, and V-shaped. The presence of Nutsedge often indicates that the soil drainage is poor or waterlogged. However, once established, it’s very difficult to control. 

Lord, what is my Nutsedge, the habits that should warn me that it is time to prepare myself better? Lack of prayer, laziness to study Your Word, lukewarmness in sharing the Good News, lack of compassion and empathy, impatience, irritability, or lack of gratitude?

Then, there is the low-growing Buckhorn Plantain. With a long taproot, it can become drought-tolerant and is difficult to remove by hand. To remove this weed, pull up young plants and destroy them before the plants put out seeds. As a last resort, several herbicides are effective.

Lord, what is my Buckhorn Plantain, the ones that take root and refuse to leave the longer it stays? Addictive behaviors, selfishness, gluttony, vanity, getting into debt, or depressive and oppressive tendencies? 

Ah, and this one—don’t we learn to love them!—Dandelions with their bright yellow heads in the springtime. They provide an important source of food for bees early in the year. But in time, they will also take over your garden. They have the weediest characteristics. Removing dandelions by hand-pulling or hoeing is often futile unless done repeatedly over a long period of time, because of their deep tap root system. 

Lord, what is my Dandelion, the intertwining roots that bring up newer problems? Narcissism, over-spending time on social media, games, and videos, negative thinking, too many excuses, blame games, procrastinating, or people-pleasing?

Isn’t Pruning Painful?

In fact, “weeds” aren’t inherently bad. Many weeds stabilize the soil and add organic matter. Some are edible and provide habitat and food for wildlife. This has given me much hope indeed—that I can use and turn my weaknesses, bad habits, ingrained sinfulness, and limitations to good use by asking the Lord for help and healing, becoming fully dependent on Him to prune me and use me for His purpose. I know that change is hard, and some essential changes can only be made with God’s help. 

If we sincerely seek God and ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the promised helper, God knows the struggles we face and encourages us to go to Him for the extra help we need (Matthew 7:7-8; Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 Peter 5:6-7). God doesn’t do all the work for us, but He does offer help to make us more effective. 

Every day is an opportunity to start this process of regeneration, rejuvenation, and renewal. Let’s take it as both a challenge and rewarding time. 

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).


Dina Mananquil Delfino

Dina Mananquil Delfino works at an Aged Care Residence in Berwick. She is also a Counsellor, Pre-marriage facilitator, event organizer, community and church volunteer, and a regular columnist for the Philippine Times newspaper magazine. She resides with her husband in Pakenham, Victoria.

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