A few months ago, we noticed cracks in the bricks of our home and splits along the interior drywall. A few weeks later, a crack snaked its way across our garage floor. We called out an expert and the news was as expected: Our foundation needed repairs.
Though we attributed the structural issues to the hot and dry Texas summer, our foundation guy said it was actually the tree in our front yard. The builder had planted it too close to the house and the roots were pulling away the soil under the house, thereby destroying the integrity of the foundation. He recommended cutting down the tree to destroy the roots. In addition, he cautioned us against waiting to fix the problem—the longer we procrastinated, the worse and more costly the damage would be.
We aren’t the only neighbor suffering from a root problem. The house across the street received the same news a few weeks after we did. Roots are at the, ahem, root of so many of our issues.
Getting to the heart of the matter
Roots can cause problems in our spiritual life too. Sometimes the roots of sin in our lives can wreak all kinds of mischief upon our hearts and minds.
Hearing the word “sin” might cause a negative reaction in some of us, so hang in there while I explain. The Bible uses the word “sin” often, but we sometimes see that word more like SIN and might imagine God sitting in Heaven with a scowl on His face, lightning bolt in hand and ready to take out all those terrible SINNERS. So, let’s define the term a little deeper. Sin is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark” (bullseye) and thereby miss out on the prize. So, sin is missing the mark of perfection.
And we all do that at times, don’t we? We snap at the kids, we grouch at our spouses, we say a four-letter word during carpool, and we never manage to do everything to perfection. It’s part of being a human.
Some of those imperfections grow roots of shame and bitterness in our hearts, especially when we don’t deal with them. Those roots can sprout weeds of anxiety and insecurity, which tear away at the foundation of our souls. We want to hide from God and others because we feel ashamed. We are afraid God won’t love us because we have made too many mistakes. We fear people would not accept us if they knew the truth about our hearts. Maybe we have difficulty loving others because of all the times we’ve been hurt. Maybe we don’t do what we should because we fear rejection.
Our fear, shame, and anxiety can turn into a negative cycle. We might find ourselves more impatient as moms because our hearts are so heavy. We might withdraw from our spouses or other significant relationships. Maybe we experience the limb-numbing, heart-pounding terror of panic attacks and rushing thoughts. We sometimes search for new relationships, perhaps thinking that the issue is a bad relationship when the real problem is the roots clogging our own hearts. In Psalm 32, David describes the roots of his sins/mistakes as wasting his bones away and sapping his strength, “as in the heart of summer.”
There is some good news, though. First, if you have these feelings, it means you’re indeed human. And you are not alone! We all deal with fears, anxiety, shame, and bitterness in our lives. We all have thoughts we’d never want to share. We all miss the mark of perfection, but our mistakes don’t have to hold us captive in their grip. We can have freedom: “…Christ also died for sins once for all… so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus died for all sin, not just a few.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Does this mean everything will be easy? No. As I listen to the people fixing my house’s foundation out front, I can testify that foundation work is difficult. Getting rid of roots of any sort is back-breaking and time-consuming. Some of us may have to take many steps. Sometimes we must speak with a counselor. Others of us must face terrible things in our pasts, and some of us must do the scary work of admitting we have issues in the first place. We’re all at a different spot, but the more we’re willing to yank out those negative roots and replace them, the more peace will grow in our hearts and choke out the negative roots.