I hate mint. I don’t just dislike it. I LOATH it!!!!!!! You see, years ago—back when I was certain that knew everything and that I was the smartest person on the planet—my mother asked my opinion. We were in a greenhouse selecting plants, and she showed me a potted mint plant. She’d heard that mint could act like a weed, and she wanted to know if I thought it would be a problem if she planted one in her flowerbed. Feeling flattered that she asked my opinion (and also feeling quite sure that I KNEW what I was talking about) I told her that it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I thought that if she surrounded the plant with rocks and only gave it a little circle in which to grow, she would be fine.
SIGH!!!!!!!!!! GROAN!!!!!!!!! (((DOUBLE GROAN!!!!!!!!!!)))
Sometimes, I really am the STUPIDEST person on the planet. And thinking that I had the expert knowledge of a horticulturist after only reading a few articles certainly proves that fact!!!
At first, everything seemed fine with the mint—at least it did until the second year when the mint plant decided to explore greener pastures and swarm over—and under—its confining hole. By the third year, that GHASTLY mint’s roots had spread under the rock barrier and into the holes set aside for neighboring plants. By the fourth year, the mint’s insidious roots and ferocious leaves were waging war against my mother’s favorite mini roses, and it had choked out her carnations.
I was APPALLED.
Feeling responsible, I pulled, weeded, and waged a war of my own against that nasty mint. The mint just raised a cocky eyebrow, stuck out its tongue, and seemed to double its territory overnight. About six years into the battle, I did the only thing I could think of—I dug up Mom’s flowerbed and completely redid it. With meticulous attention to detail, I carefully picked all the mint roots from the dirt, and I doubled the layer of rock on top of the soil.
Did it work? Are you kidding????? I managed to kill several of Mom’s plants in the process, but that nasty, awful, HORRIBLE mint survived. I will say it again: I HATE MINT!!!
It’s been close to twenty years since I disastrously gave my mother my “wise” advice. During that time, many things have changed in my life, but the one thing that has remained the same is my horrible war against the mint. It is a never-ending battle—and one I always seem to lose.
The other day as I was picking mint from around my mother’s roses, I began feeling philosophical (it was either philosophize or toss my trowel across the yard). Anyway, as I mused, I realized that bitterness is a lot like mint. I used to think that harboring bitter thoughts wasn’t a big deal, but down through the years, I’ve learned the opposite is true. Allowing anger and unforgiveness to fester is just as dangerous as buying a wretched mint plant. It seems safe in the beginning, but each day, those horrible little roots will creep a little further, choking out good things.
I have the type of personality that tends to brood about past hurts and humiliations, but I’ve learned that bitterness is something I can’t afford to harbor. I’ve learned that “hurt feelings” and “pity parties” are incredibly destructive. They color how I think, how I talk, how I interact, and how I view the world. I’ve come to believe that embracing bitterness is a horrible sin—it murders who I am as a person.
It can be incredibly difficult to do, but when something happens that hurts or humiliates me, I try HARD to let it go immediately. I do my best to refuse to dwell on it. I’ve found that giving my hurts to Jesus and REFUSING to shelter them in my mind is the only way to stop bitterness’s unrelenting march through my personality and my life.
I hate mint, and I hate bitterness. Both are horribly destructive, and both need to be dealt with in the same way—they should NEVER be planted in the first place, and if they are hanging around, they should NEVER be allowed to grow.
“Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15b