Invasive Species

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. ~ Thomas Merton

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I’m unable to be simultaneously perturbed and in a state of grace. I’m increasingly aware that when I choose to be annoyed, I take a step away from grace and open myself to invasion.

In ecology, invasive species are generally non-native plants or animals that harm the environments they invade. Removed from their natural habitat, you would think these transplants might struggle to survive, but in fact, they thrive. Imported, invasive species are largely without natural enemies, leaving them free to multiply and overwhelm their environments.

In the spiritual realm, the soul is like loamy soil, able to sustain most anything planted in it. Sacred spaces, our souls are designed to be nourished by wisdom and love and grace.

But soul health has its own delicate ecosystem. One of the most common invasive soul species are pet peeves. Here are a few of the things I often hear mentioned:

People who don’t use turn signals/ tailgate/ take up 2 parking spaces
People who intimidate/ humiliate/ ridicule others
People who let their dogs bark/ children scream/ babies cry incessantly
People who act superior/ arrogant/ patronizing
People who throw trash out the car window/ on the beach/ on the sidewalk
People who text/ read a book/ shave/ apply make-up while driving
People who leave shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot
People who are self-righteous/ defensive/ argumentative
People who rant about political/ religious views that differ from your own
People with a full cart of groceries in the express line
People who allow their children to yell/ fight/ run in restaurants
People who lie/ gossip/ back-stab/ stir-the-pot
People who make excuses for their mistakes/ their children/ their habits
People who continually criticize/ correct/ find fault
People who ask for advice and then do the opposite of what you suggest
People who talk on their cell phone/ to each other/ walk around at movies
People who are prejudiced/ judgmental/ bigoted/ racist                               People who whine/ complain/ feel sorry for themselves
People who are always negative

If you’re like most folks, there’s something that consistently bugs you. My personal peeves are comprised more of attitudes than actions, which makes it easy for me to justify maintaining them. It isn’t hard for me to make a case against arrogance or bigotry or cruelty. If I start down that path, my mind rolls those peeves over and over until they’ve taken root in my all too accommodating loam.

Most invasive species do not spread randomly, but move along corridors through suitable habitats. ~ Indiana University Pub

My heart’s desire is to be peeve-less.

I’m trying to be diligent about what I plant in the corridors of my soul. Pet peeves thrive because they aren’t native and don’t belong there. Unchecked, they choke out the love and compassion and kindness I’m called to offer.

Plant a peeve and it will grow. When Grace is the gardener, peeves get plucked. But when we lose sight of Grace and instead, begin petting our peeves, they will most certainly flourish, causing real harm to our souls.

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

30 thoughts on “Invasive Species”

    1. Dru – There is an old saying: “As long as you’re green you’re growing but as soon as you’re ripe, your rot.” Pruning, painful at the moment, does stave off the rot!

    1. Dear MT – what a lovely oxymoron you’ve left here!
      I hope some people have been joyful to see me (here or in person) and I suppose some have been alarmed, although hopefully not many.
      But only you would find my virtual presence alarmingly joyful – my eloquent friend!
      I think I’ll roll that one around for quite a while with an enormous smile – that could be taken as joyful or alarming, depending on the state of mind of the seer! 😀

  1. Oh, I do echo everyone who has rejoiced in finding your post here! I was going over old comments on my site and found you there, and looked at your lovely, mysterious gravatar, and wistfully, wishfully, recalled the old days when we traded, nearly, commenting on each other.
    So I clicked, hoping I’d find something, but knowing nothing was in my inbox (and why is THAT?)
    And here you are! I am so glad!
    And the topic is so good. I was thinking of kudzu the whole time and feeling more and more ill-at-ease in Zion! 🙂 Thanks!
    Blessings on you, dear Debbie!

    1. Oh Katharine – You made me look!
      Kudzu can grow at the rate of a foot a day. Can you imagine? What a vivid visual of how quickly an invasive species can take over.
      Thank you, as always, for adding your particular slant and making me work just a little bit to get it! ;D

      1. I was introduced to kudzu when we lived in Mississippi. It kills whole trees and although they planted it to control erosion, it does not do that because the coverage it gives is mostly of the vining type, and not rooted, and it shades out most other species that might have lent help with their roots. So it is never right ot do wrong? Perhaps! 😉 And getting ride of it involves bulldozing and spraying twice a hear for at least three years. The sadest part is that people plant it on purpose, in places with what they call H.E.S. soil (highly erodible soil) so this dirt is going away faster than most dirt is. That is another involved story with possible spiritual meanings! We owned an enormous oak tree with a chasm about five feet deep washed out from under it. You could literally walk UNDER and enormous oak, because the soil had washed away from under lots of it. (Wish I’d owned a camera back then!) 🙂

        Yes, a foot a day. Entire forests are covered with it. It does have herbal uses, though a famous herbalist once said, “If you plant it, mulch it with concrete!”

  2. The quote is something I could do some journaling with… EVERY moment, every event. Am I making choices that move me closer to Him or away from? In fact, to follow your analogy, am I willfully going to places in my head or heart that inevitably lead me to tending the invasives? I guess with this being another hallmark holiday, I am beginning there and refusing to become muddied in the muck, I’m leaving the past where it lies. No need to tend anything in those dark corridors. I believe that work is done. If I go looking, I can always find something to irritate. If I go beyond the term pet peeve and include resentments, minor disagreements, points of view or stress… wow. I really do need to be careful what ‘grows’ in my soul. Sadly, most of it, for me, begins in my head. Like Mel mentioned, I’m also practicing mindfulness. I’m appalled at how hard that is. Thank you, I think, for adding to the list of dangerous species…

    1. Heidi –
      Nothing like Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day) to promote the irrigation of invasive species, is there? Can we share the pruning shears?

    1. Dear Carol –
      Thank you for taking the time to write to me personally to offer your words of encouragement. You are definitely growing crops of kindness. 😀

  3. Oh gracious one, so good to read here again! Thank you for exposing pet peeves for what they are . .invasive and damaging. They sound so innocent though, don’t they? Praying for grace and the planting of patience to keep the peeves away! Love , the other deb

  4. I’m so excited! Wonderful to see the famous TMOG! Debbie, you are my favorite soul-guru. What a great topic! Honestly, I am in a constant battle with these insidious thoughts and attitudes. I’m big into “mindfulness” now. It works! If you let the poo in; grow; fester … it will take over. I try to grab those nasty thoughts and attitudes every time I feel one coming on and SNUFF IT! It’s not always possible. Why is it we have to cultivate positive and work REALLY hard to snuff out the negative. 🙂 Much love and let’s ALL have peace. MEL

    1. Sweet Mel,
      I do love your heart.
      Why indeed?
      I recently read an article about how the brain registers negative comments in a different hemisphere than positive ones.
      “The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” said Professor Nass, who co-authored “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010).

      He talked about how negative emotions usually involve more thinking, so we process the information more thoroughly than positive ones. This leads to our tendency to ruminate more about unpleasant comments/events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.

      Guess Pharrell has it right – a room without a roof! 😀

    1. Hello Sue!
      I don’t think we’ve met (on line)?
      Thank you for spending some time here with me. This one was a little longer than my 2 minute pledge.
      I got carried away by the bugs. 😀

    1. Judi – I hope I got the ecology right. I don’t have your knowledge there. Unfortunately I have plenty of knowledge about pet peeves. ;D
      Love seeing your sweet face!

      1. I have a garden…but just because I’ve planted many things. I think it fits because what we plant we sow 😀
        Blessings to you – stay cool.

  5. DEBBIE!!!!! Wonderful to see you here again! I have missed you and your wisdom my friend! Your posts are so honest and have so much to offer. Although you do not counsel anymore, you are still a great counselor…keep on keeping on. Be blessed my sister and friend…Two Minutes of Grace indeed. 🙂 ❤ Love you sis!
    Greg

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