To be wronged

If you focus on the flowers, you'll scarcely notice the weeds. Bar Harbor, Maine, September 2007

If you focus on the flowers, you’ll scarcely notice the weeds.
Bar Harbor, Maine, September 2007

“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”Confucius

Gardening teaches me many lessons.  I love the way nurturing the flowers and pulling the weeds can make such a difference in how beautiful a small spot of ground may be.  Left alone, the weeds can choke out the flowers in no time.  But if I carefully encourage the growth of what is pleasing, and eliminate the unwanted vegetation, the rewards are evident.

It does require maintenance, though.  The weeds are always there, ready to encroach on the beauty and consume the results of effort.  Fortunately, the incentive of enjoying the colorful blooms and foliage provides a steady diet of encouragement that keeps me going through times when the weeds seem to be winning.

It’s the same with our thoughts, only more so.  I don’t know anyone who has never been wronged by someone else, and most of the people I know have been wronged many times. Even friends and family can act thoughtlessly, and sometimes people can be deliberately cruel or hostile.  There’s not much we can do to prevent others from hurting us, but we can control how we react to it.

Have you ever known anyone who was perpetually angry or hurt at someone else?  The topics of their ruminations may vary, but it seems that they are continually distressed and venting about someone else’s misbehavior.   These complainers often have abundant reasons to be thankful, but they choose to focus their attention elsewhere; someone is always raining on their parade.

How do you feel when you are with someone who lets the weeds choke out their blossoms? Do you find yourself avoiding them?  I know I do.  Such people feed my own tendency to nurse grudges, and I don’t want to waste one minute of my life that way. Life is difficult enough without re-visiting some real or imaginary slight.  I’d rather nurture the joys that surround me and decorate each day.

It’s not easy to shift gears when we are feeling the fresh sting of deeds that were genuinely rude or unfair.  Just being aware of our own thought patterns is the first step.  It’s okay to feel hurt, but there are loving, encouraging people who will support you and help you turn your attention elsewhere.  You have important, joyful and beneficial ways to spend your time, and a great deal of happiness awaits you, if you encourage and nurture it.

Remember not to feed the weeds!

43 Comments

  1. Good morning, Julia. I sense there are recent words or situations that have you striving to not linger there. I’ve had situations through different times in life that I gave too much thought and attention and wish that I’d never dwelled a moment on. Let today be filled with bright moments for you and yours! 🌼🌺🍁🍂

    • Thank you, Sheila. You’re right, there are lots of things that could depress and distress me, but the simple fact is that I can’t afford to dwell on them. True hardship — the kind that involves illness, death, and loss — has this advantage: it burns through the dross pretty quickly, leaving us with a sharper focus on what remains. Thanks for walking with me and sharing the light! ❤

  2. This post really hits home for me Julia. I live with it every day. My husband is the type that holds on to the hurt and anger. He has done this for years. I on the other hand have been telling him for years to let it go and just stay away from those that hurt you or forgive them and move on. His hurt comes from family and it’s hard to stay away from family. He found it difficult, but after 38 years of marriage I am finally winning the battle. He is learning to be happy about what he was blessed with and letting go. Me? Sure I have been hurt and will probably be hurt again, but whenever that happens and my husband says something to me about it, my answer is always the same. “It’s Ok, God is watching,” and I move on. I also keep in mind that when I do something for someone no matter who it is, I never expect any thanks. I do it because I want to with no strings attached. I find it easier to smile that way.

    I also love your garden it is beautiful. I am not good with plants or flowers, but I do enjoy looking at them. Great Post. :o)

    • Thank you Patricia. In my nearly 60 years on this planet, I have often seen in others’ lives, and experienced in my own, that no one has the power to hurt us as much as our family. It seems so ironic. And, as you say, one cannot completely “move on” from family. I’m glad you have been able to help your husband focus on the joyful things and let go of the less happy ones. People often quote Tolstoy as saying that happy families are all alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. It may be crazy to argue with an undisputed genius such as Tolstoy, but I think it’s just the opposite; I think unhappy families are basically all alike. The details may be different, but the reasons for being unhappy are the same: disappointment, envy, disrespect, gossip, boundary issues, etc. etc. etc. But it seems to me that there can be many different ways to be happy in one’s family, and in life in general. I think each happy family is truly happy in its own way, since every life is unique.

      I think it’s beautiful to give in the way you describe, with no expectations and no strings attached. When we do this, the giving itself is its own reward. Thanks so much for being here and sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. Steve

    Great thoughts…especially ‘allowing the weeds to choke out the blossoms!” Great way to start a week Julia…..thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Steve. Hope you are doing well and enjoying your beautiful blossoms! 😀

      • Steve

        Just in case you don’t frequent face book too much… I sent this to you yesterday…
        Hi Julia, hope you and the guys are all doing well ! Really enjoyed this mornings blog message. It occurred to me that if you decided to write a book along the lines of today’s theme, “Don’t Feed the Weeds” would make for a perfect title.. Your last line suggested it smile emoticon Have a lovely Autumn . We are not too colorful yet in TN.

        • Hi Steve, thanks for letting me know about the note. I have never really gotten the hang of Facebook, so I often miss messages sent there, unless people tell me to look for them…I’ll look for yours! We are doing well, all things considered. Life has felt crazy since Daddy died, but I think Mama is gradually getting adjusted, though we all miss him so much. Hope your fall colors will appear soon…just this week in Virginia I’m seeing lots of beautiful changes; I hope to take a walk and take photos of some of the trees today.

  4. Jack

    I was taught that you can’t hold a grudge against someone without thinking yourself better than him. Part of the recovery regimen from addiction, mine to alcohol, is a “searching and fearless moral inventory” that is shared with another. I don’t know anyone serious about their recovery that at the end of that process doesn’t see themselves as giant net receivers of forgiveness for indiscretions both great and small. If I’ve been forgiven the greater, surely I can forgive the lesser.

    The great thing about a relationship with Jesus is that finally you can reconcile your rottenness with His great love. I’m so bad that only the death of the God of the universe could bring about my reconciliation, but I’m so loved that He would. Defeat despair indeed!

    • Jack, as always your words are a true encouragement. I have been blessed by the example of many people in recovery, who have helped me see the necessity of letting go of grievances in the realization of one’s own shortcomings. I believe we’re all recovering from something (and some of us are in recovery from more than one issue), and that dose of humility that comes with the “searching and fearless moral inventory” is great medicine indeed. I think some people resist Jesus because it means letting go of that prideful fear of facing up to those parts of ourselves that we like to run from. It seems to me that many Christians can’t fully feel the love of God until they admit their own failings and see that God has loved them always, in spite of everything, just as God loves everyone else. And you’re right, that’s the ultimate defeat of the ultimate despair. Thanks for being here with us to share it!

  5. Oh yes. I’ve learned that if I don’t avoid that energy, I can either get sucked into it, or leave feeling worn out and sometimes depressed.

    I like pulling weeds in the garden. I find the activity cathartic. I have a much smaller home then you, though, so that may make the difference. That said, I used to pull all the weeds in my former landlords yard. I think for me any time in the dirt is appreciated and bringing order to that little patch, is an added bonus.

    • Alys, I do love weeding too. During Matt’s early school years, when I was learning what it was like to advocate for him at IEP meetings where it seemed people only saw his limitations, I would work out a great deal of my anxieties through weeding the lawn. I’d put on a book on cassette tape (on my Walkman, which was a luxury to me in those days) and go into our back yard at base housing, which was COVERED in clover, and pull, pull, pull. There was so much clover that some people said I’d never get rid of it without chemicals, but I steadfastly refused that remedy. Two years later we had a lovely lawn, and I had my sanity. Since then, weeding has been a reliable friend!

      • Oh, Julia, I can totally relate. It’s a great place to escape, and the added music for you must have been an amazing respite. I remember when Chris was small and napping, crouching in the side yard with the baby monitor turned to high, so I can pull out some weeds. It was an area full of gravel and invasive plants, and like you, I steadfastly refused to give up. I just pulled, sifted, pulled, sifted, and so on. I applaud your determination. I love the idea of weeding as a reliable friend.

        • It’s a great thing to enjoy doing, because there is always plenty of it to do — I get lots of offers from people who say I can pull their weeds whenever I want, and I think they are only halfway joking. We have so much ground to cover that I’ve not had to take anyone up on their offer, but I may yet become a roving weed-puller!

          • LOL I love the idea of a roving weed puller. You, me and the goats can start a little business. Did you know they rent goats to clear weed-choked fields? They apparently have four-chamber stomachs and love weeds. They’re so darn cute, too.

            I’ve been known to pluck a weed out of the walkway as I’m heading to someone’s door. The first time I did that it was on impulse. Then I stopped myself and reminded that same self that perhaps they liked that weed. LOL. No arrests pending though. 😉

            • Alys, while we lived in CA I was so happy to read that there were people who kept flocks of goats for the purpose of having them go to the top of hills that were too steep for mowers and other equipment, and the goats would eat the dried grasses and weeds that are such a fire hazard. Brilliant! Also, when we started clearing the land behind our fence in Virginia, it was infested with poison ivy (I got a whopping bad case of it before I learned to recognize it — but I’ll never make that particular mistake again). I was trying to come up with some non-toxic way to get rid of the poison ivy, since even pulling it up is risky, as the resin from the roots can contaminate clothing, gloves, etc. for years. I read that goats love to eat poison ivy, and it has no toxic effects on them whatsoever. It was the closest I ever came to wishing I had a couple of goats! Nature has so many solutions for us.

              I laughed when I read of your weed pulling at other people’s homes. That’s the sort of thing I might do without even realizing it was not my business. After years of arguing with Jeff about using Roundup (you can guess who wanted to use it and who didn’t) I think he has finally come around to seeing the therapeutic benefit of weeding. He actually spends more time weeding now than I do. Hopefully our storm drains and groundwater are the better for it.

  6. raynard

    Julia I could of said” Feed the need and not the weed”But that sounds so ” Passe”..I sure do miss gardening.. Application and principle take time to learn, and put into practice.. Life lesson number ” I lost count cause I’m still learning.. Be blessed

    • Raynard, I’m glad I’m not the only one who loses track of what number Life Lesson I’m on today. “Feed the need” is a good way to think of it. Sometimes I think there are certain types who NEED stress, but in a bad way, like some people need alcohol or drugs. But we all need joy, peace, beauty, love…”against such things there is no law” as the Bible says. I hope you are able to get back to gardening. Do they have any shared garden space in your town? These places are springing up all over; we even have one in Yorktown. It’s a large lot that people are allowed to rent small spaces on, for a very reasonable fee. It’s especially popular for vacant lots in urban areas, which go from being eyesores to community gardens where people meet to feed their bodies as well as their souls. I’m trying to learn container gardening, too, for on the deck. But it’s tricky when you don’t get much sunlight. Hope you and “the girls” have great week this week.

  7. Anon E. Moose

    As sublime as it would be to float away on a cloud, dreaming of what it would have been like to sit at the feet of Confucius, I prefer to dream of Fred Rogers. I can easily picturing him asking, “Have you ever known someone who was perpetually angry or hurt at someone else?” That pleasant, smiling face almost eradicated the meaning of the words of his question . . . Zzzzz

    • Yes, I think Mr. Rogers used to start a lot of questions with “Have you ever…” or “Do you ever…” — and yes, even his face was reassuring. As he might say himself, “You have good ideas!” 😀 Reading your comment, I just had to go back and enjoy again this wonderful song from him that I featured in this post.

  8. I have a friend who is always dwelling on the negative and seeing slights from others… it makes it very difficult to spend time with her and I will go for months not contacting her because of all the negativity. Such a shame, because her life is not so bad and when she forgets her gripes she’s a lovely person. I would rather see the good in life… and really there is a lot of it if you pay attention.

    • It is a shame when we see someone who has so much going for her, and yet she seems unable to see it. I often wonder if such people are depressed and don’t know it, or whether they are facing some trial or trauma that they are afraid to talk about. In any case, I think we are not really helping such a person if we continue to simply absorb their negativity. Unfortunately, in some cases, they are far more likely to drag us down than we are to life them up. There is a place for venting, but if we don’t move past it, everyone suffers. So much of our happiness in life depends on what we pay attention to!

      • You are right – my friend seems to be so obsessed with the past, that she can see no bright future. She is the only person I know who always ends up in tears every time we meet, no matter what fun thing we are doing. I just don’t seem to be able to help. As you say, it just drags me down and so I have to be in a really positive mood to cope with meeting up… and it just seems that life is too short for that.

        • It can be so hard to distance ourselves from people we really care about, but sometimes it’s necessary, for our own good and ultimately sometimes for theirs as well. I know there have been times in my own life when I sensed that it was better for me NOT to contact friends because I was in such a low period I didn’t really have anything to offer them, and I knew there was nothing they could do to change my circumstances either. Sometimes just knowing that people care is enough, even when we are not with them in person very often. I’m sure your friend knows that you care, and is grateful.

  9. Ann

    Julia, this one sure hit home! Thanks for the reminder to move on and leave past hurt behind.

    • Thank you, Ann. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  10. Good Tuesday morning, my friend. I wonder if you’ve experienced recent hurtful words or a situation that prompted this topic. I hope not, as you’ve been through a difficult time lately. I can only say (from experience) try not to linger there. There is a happier place and I sometimes remind myself that we can THINK something into being far worse than it was originally. Remember a while back the sensation of skipping? Let’s SKIP into a sunny place! 🌞 Love, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, this is what magazine editors call an “evergreen” topic for me; I can be sensitive and get hurt easily, so I pretty much always need to remind myself of the need to move past wounded feelings. Having said that, the way this topic came up was that I was cleaning out some of my papers, and came across some notes Gloria sent me after she attended a conference with Dr. Daniel Amen (whose work I really admire, and whose clinics have been SO helpful with Matt’s manic episodes; after three manic phases in less than four years, he’s now been stable for over ten! The doctor who is responsible for that was one we found through the Amen clinic, where he was on staff for several years). AT the top of one of the pages of those notes, which were fascinating to re-read, she had written that quote from Confucius and I knew I had to use it; it’s so important for so many of us to remember that we can CHOOSE happiness! Thanks for dropping in — we are skipping away this morning! 😀

  11. Amy

    Hi Julia, Hope all is well. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I am finding as I grow older I am more able to let go of things but sometimes the devil gets a hold. Then I realize what a waste of my time. I think I may have every Wednesday off in November so if we can’t get together on the 11th maybe another day will work. Take care of you. What’s for dinner? We are trying a recipe for a healthy harvest hash but I have to say it didn’t get great reviews so it may be a one time dish. 🙂 Love you.

    • Amy, lets shoot for the 18th and hope things stay sane until then. Homemade chili tonight at my house. Healthy harvest sounded great — then I thought “I wonder if it is mostly squash? Maybe not…” 😀 Love you too!

  12. There is a saying, I don’t remember where it’s from, “where attention goes, energy flows”. Give something negative too much attention, it will grow and grow. Cut it from your thoughts, it withers on the vine. Weed pulling is a favorite past time for me as well. I don’t have on music because I’m having a conversation “audibly” with God. I’m sure the neighbors think I’m schizophrenic. It’s my meditation and prayer time. No one bothers you when you weed, have you noticed that? I weed out relationships the same way. If they are trying to choke out my life force, out the garden they go. But I let them go with love, Even the Ex’s were released with love. Negative thoughts are draining to the thinker. Byron Katie has a whole book on how our negative thinking can dismantle our lives. I hated that book because I wasn’t done being angry. It was the one I learned the most from. Funny how that works. I see nothing but beautiful flowers in your garden. Giant hugs.

    • Marlene, now that everyone goes around with Bluetooth headsets on, nobody looks schizophrenic anymore, not even people who really are. 😀 Just one more benefit of living in technoland. I have audible conversations with God all the time here at home (audible on my side, anyway) which at the very least saves some of the human ears that must get weary of hearing me ramble on. I think most people would find my love of weeding even crazier than the sound of me talking with nobody around!! 😀 But look! you, Alys and I have already proved there are at least three of us! It’s so true that we sometimes can learn the most from things we least want to hear. I try not to shoot the messengers anymore, nor even run them off without a fair hearing. Giant hugs right back to you from the flowers, the trees AND me!

  13. HarryS

    Maybe you’ve heard about the man that had a mountain of credit
    card debt? He said to his friend, “I’ve lost my job, my car
    is being repossessed, and our house is in foreclosure,everyone hurts my feelings but I’m
    not worried about it.” His friend asked him why he wasn’t
    worried and he said, “Because I’ve hired a professional
    worrier. He is going to do all my worrying for me, and that
    way I don’t have to think about.”

    The friend told him that was fantastic and asked him how much
    he charges for that service. He said, “$50,000 a year.” “And
    how are you going to come up with that kind of money?” The
    friend asked. The man said, “I don’t know, that’s his worry.”

    • That one brought a big grin to my face. Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. 😀

  14. Good morning, Julia!
    Thinking of the parable of the seed sown amongst the weeds – and I feel like I’ve been such a brat praying “please, God, send weed killer!” I’m a little older now and maybe learning to stand a little taller? I can even see around some of the weeds now …
    I can certainly see more beautiful flowers than I once could!

    • Susan, I think many of us are guilty of praying for weed killer. I’ve often thought I would like to have a blog called “Two rowboats and a helicopter” after the famous joke about the man who drowned while refusing rescue three times, all the while saying “God will save me” — then hearing God say “I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter!” 😀 For reasons I don’t completely understand, weeds too have their place. Maybe they are there partly to give Alys, Marlene and me a sure-fire stress reducer!

  15. Michael

    In horticulture class they would say,”A weed is the right plant in the wrong place.”
    Many plants now classified as weeds or plant bullies were once cherished in the garden till they ran everyone else out like the -Achemias and the Himalyan Blackberrry- once planted for erosion control in the Northwest now an unruly beast that is only controlled by hoards of goats which you can rent. I am not kidding. Each year new plant bullies are added to the list.

    • Michael, the term “plant bullies” is new to me, but I love it. I have had my share of dealing with plant bullies that I unknowingly placed in my garden spaces (such as Walker’s Cat Mint, which ate up everything else I planted, even the hardier things. I thought having landscapers dig and replace the entire bed would eradicate it, but it’s BACK). If the Himalayan blackberry is edible, it might not be such a bad thing. 😀 Seriously, I know you are not kidding about rent-a-goat. I think it’s a wonderful concept. I ardently wished for a goat or two when I had to rid our lot of invasive poison ivy. Achemias a bully plant? WOW — I must be confused — are they the ones with the beautiful flowers I found when I Googled the term? I guess that just goes to show that everything really is relative. As a kid I loved the dandelions and could not understand why adults were not fond of them

  16. Michael

    In horticulture class they would say,” a weed is the right plant in the wrong place.” Some plants now classified as weeds were once welcome in the garden like Achemia- a ground cover- which was found to be a bully and Himalayan Blackberry which was planted for erosion control and quickly became a landscape bully. Now blackberries are unsightly though they deliver delicious pies on occasion and the only thing that controls them are herds of wild goats. I am not kidding. You can rent the goats by the day.
    I don’t see any weeds in that picture. Where are they? Ornamental Kales are big here, though my wife hates them and I have fun torturing her with winter displays of them. I will send you a pict.

    • Michael, I noticed this comment which was a semi-duplicate of the other one, but you added some interesting things so I left it in place. I hate that WordPress doesn’t always tell us when our comments are getting through. I don’t comment as much on other blogs anymore because my browser will often not respond when I try to post the comment, and then my comment and the time I took to write it are gone.

      I love blackberries so much that I fancy I would put up with entire acres of them in exchange for their fruit. Having said that, I grew up thinking of their thick foliage as a haven for snakes, as the blackberries grew thickly around a pond near our home that was said to be crawling with the vicious Cottonmouth. Do send me a picture of the ornamental Kale. I think the ornamental cabbages are gorgeous.

      The weeds in the photo are on the outer fringes, barely visible; this was a public space and was well landscaped, but as always, grasses, clover and other little gate crashers are inevitable.

  17. Michael

    I forgot to post the first comment, hence the duplicates. We do have a small planting of seedless blackberries but they pale to the delicious flavor of the wild ones. On the coast they have a wild ground level growing “little” wild black berry that are said to be the most delicious. The little ones are like a quarter inch in diameter and the pie is highly prized.

    • Wow, that explains why the ones we picked when we were kids were so delicious. I would never guess that wild berries would taste better than cultivated ones. I remember them as being sweet and very juicy. Worth risking a snake encounter– at least until one actually shows up. 😀

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