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Growing Into the Best You

For a plant to grow, be healthy and produce good fruit, it needs certain elements on a consistent basis: sunshine, food, water, and space, for example. The lack of these things will stop it from thriving. Negative influences, such as weeds and insects, will also cause damage and/or stunt a plant’s growth if they aren’t removed in time.

In our lives we will come across circumstances, people and values that will either help us grow or hold us back. A good family, loyal friend and self-respect may support our development, for example, while a bully, drinking problem or abusive situation will cause us damage. These things are ‘weeds’, and, just as in a garden, they must be pulled out of our lives.

This is not always easy. Consider this story:

A 16-year-old girl called Amelia was interested in learning at school. She liked to get good marks and stay on top of her homework. However, the girls she hung with were more interested in partying, skipping school and even experimenting with drugs. Even though the things they did sometimes made Amelia uncomfortable, she didn’t know what she’d do without them. Who would she hang with? They were popular and being with them made her popular too.

Not wanting to disappoint them or be a reject, she started to pretend that school wasn’t important to her. Then, when they asked her to go to a party at a twenty-years-old’s house on the weekend, she said yes even though she didn’t really want to and knew her parents wouldn’t give her permission. Torn between not wanting to disobey her parents and disappointing her friends, she decided to sneak out after dark. She was immediately pressured to take drugs as soon as she arrived at the party. She tried to refuse, but everyone started giving her a hard time until she finally gave in.

She later died in hospital from an accidental overdose.

Amelia’s choice at the time felt like a difficult one. She was under pressure, was afraid of being alone and was therefore vulnerable to making regrettable decisions. Standing up for herself would not have been easy – she could have lost friends, made enemies and been alone for a long time until she met new people. Life at school could have become unbearable. But making the decision to pull the ‘weeds’ out of her life (in this case, her friends) she wouldn’t have found herself in a life and death situation.

Sometimes we have to pick the ‘lesser of two evils’. We may be caught up in a damaging addiction, but know that going through rehabilitation also involves discomfort and stress. We may be in an abusive situation, but finally walking away may mean leaving the only life we have ever known and/or hurting people we care about. The decisions aren’t always easy – the weed may have long and tenacious roots – but if something is destructive in our lives, then the damage of leaving it there will cause more pain in the long term then pulling it out as soon as it’s identified.

This is where it’s important to seek support. We not only need the absence of the bad things, but the presence of the good. A plant that is free of weeds in its garden still needs sunlight and water. With the help of a good friend, family member or professional support, we can start pulling out the weeds in our lives, find the room to grow strong again, and become the person we were meant to be.