negative bias

Learning to Look Beyond the Weeds

Weeds, Weeds, and More Weeds

This time of year, crabgrass, clover, dandelions, and sorrel are everywhere I look. The weeds taunt me and whisper threats. It feels as though if I don’t remove them, they will take over that flowerbed, the entire yard, the farm, and maybe my life. I will never get rid of them all. Weeding could expand to take up all of my available time. So, I try to keep it to 20-30 minutes a day only a few days a week. But, that’s still more time than I’d like to dedicate to weeding.

I pull them up by the roots, and I cut them down with the string trimmer. I hold them back for a short time, only for them to reappear next week or next month or next year. The law of entropy, which states that all organization tends to become disorganized over time, is clearly evident in my flowerbeds, in my kitchen, in my closet, and, really, in every area of my life.

Yesterday, I was weeding a flower bed next to a brick path that leads to my side door. I dug and pulled, hoed and yanked. Later, when I was working across the yard in the vegetable garden, I gained a new perspective. From this new vantage point, I saw the same patch of ground that I had weeded earlier and I was dumbfounded. There were beautiful phlox blooming in that very spot. Tiny, vibrant, pink blossoms lay in a spray basking in the morning sun.

I had missed the beauty of the flowers that were under my nose because I was so focused on the weeds.

In this realization, I learned something about myself. I usually do see the weeds when I look at that area of my yard. I don’t see the flowers, or the herbs that my husband planted for me, or the lovely single-petal calla lilies, which are my very favorite flower. My eyes tend to search out the weeds that are there, and my hands immediately want to pull them.

This is true for many of us in various areas of life. In family relationships, we can tend to focus on what irritates us most about a loved one. In our home, we can focus on what we would change if we had the money and time. We pick out the things we don’t like about our bodies, our careers, and our lives.

Negative bias is a choice.

If we recognize this tendency and remind ourselves of it, we can change it. It’s just a habit. We can change where we choose to focus our vision. We can choose to think on…

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Yes, there is a time for weeding. But, when it is not time to weed, I can choose to see the flowers and herbs. When I am with my family, I can also choose to think on – and be grateful for – what I love about my husband and children. When I am in my home, I can choose to look past the dog-hair tumbleweeds rolling across the floor and the magically reappearing peanut butter blobs on the counter, knowing that there will be a time to clean it up later. Instead of focusing on the negative, I can recognize God’s provisions and blessings in a home that protects us, pets that bring us joy, and plentiful food that nourishes us. Instead of comparing my body to fitness models on Pinterest, I can be grateful for what my body can do each day and the energy it puts forth so I can work and play.

I can choose to focus on all of the things I was able to do today instead of the items left unchecked on my to-do list.

So, today I will choose to think on whatever is true, lovely, and praiseworthy in my vision, in my family, in my calling, and in my life. Though it’s not my natural tendency, by God’s grace, I can purpose to do it today.

When or where in your life do you recognize a bias toward the negative? Leave a comment and let me know!


Photo by Asgeir Pall Juliusson on Unsplash