“Oh no!” At my yelp Husband looked up from where he was snoozing on the sun lounger. “What’s the matter?”
“Look! Convolvulus in the rhubarb patch!”
We had just returned from a lovely holiday visiting Younger Son and family in the peaceful and beautiful foothills of the Italian Alps. I am never going to not wish they hadn’t emigrated, but I do have to confess that the weather in Italy is better than in Wales, but then again it’s probably better in a lot of places.
But the problem with going away in spring-time, is that it coincides with the start of the garden growing season. The grass was so long on our return George could have got lost in it. And now the first convolvulus shoots were springing up.
Convolvulus, better known as bindweed, can choke plants or reduce their growth, so I seem to spend most of the summer battling it. Our raspberry patch is only about three metres long but I can begin pulling out all the convolvulus at one end, and I swear by the time I get to the other end, they’re already sprouting again at the first end.
Google ‘how to get rid of convolvulus’ and you’ll find pages of websites all saying how hard it is. Bindweed is a perfect description for it.
In Zac’s bible study we’re currently looking at the gospel of John. In chapter 5, Jesus makes some startling claims to deity, upsetting the Jews with his talk of a son father relationship with God. Jesus said he could only do what he did – the miracles – because it was what he’d seen his father doing.
I have three children, one daughter and two sons and they’re all very good cooks. I’d like to say I taught them all they know, but their skills have far exceeded my capabilities. Likewise, we try to teach our children the right way to live, but we’re not perfect. One of my grandsons was saying recently that he’d learned a particular swear word from his uncle, while playing a computer game!
Apprenticed to his earthly father, Joseph, in his carpentry workshop, Jesus might have heard the odd swear word when he was growing up, but his life’s work was a perfect reflection of the work and will of God the Father. Jesus is the face of God, and he’s confident in who he is. He is assured in his identity.
So many of us these days lack that assurance.
Again an internet search will bring up page after page of websites aimed at building self-confidence and esteem. And to find a market for them you don’t have to look much further than your average church congregation.
I’ll rephrase that. I’m pretty sure on the surface, the average church congregation looks to be perfectly at peace with their Maker and themselves, singing their socks off, nodding in the right places, adding their ‘Amens’ to particularly stirring words.
But when they go home I wonder how many feel a sense of failure. “I wish I was as good at speaking as Helen. I wish I could pray the way Andy does. I wish I could offer hospitality the way Sue does.” Or, “If they knew what I was really like, nobody would come near me.”
Remember those bindweed plants? It’s not just what you see on the surface; it’s the roots that make them so hard to get rid of. And negative thoughts are like bindweed roots: they’re very hard to get rid of – the thought that I’m not good enough, that I need to be better, as perfect as others appear.
Brene Brown is an American academic researcher known for her work on shame and vulnerability, and one of her most famous quotes is about telling yourself, “I am enough.”
Sadly, just telling myself that, isn’t enough, doesn’t make me enough. I know I am flawed, I fail, and knowledge of these imperfections is the bindweed in my brain.
Jesus knew who he was and that he was loved by the father, and this is what he wants for us. He wants us to know with confidence, that we are loved by the father. That in his eyes we are enough.
Jesus never says we have to be perfect in order to be loved. He doesn’t set any conditions other than loving him. I’m not sure where we get this idea that we need to be something better than we are. I guess it’s from the world in which we live. From an early age we are judged and if we don’t measure up to certain standards a note is made on our records.
Jesus isn’t like that when we love him. We mess up. We say sorry. He forgives – and forgets. We don’t have to try to attain perfection – it’s impossible anyway. He reassures us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Now if only we could be rid of the bindweed.