Trees that outgrow their planters (and plants that outgrow their pots) become rootbound–strangled by their own roots. Unable to grow. Unable to take in nutrients. What to do? First, remove the plant from its too-small container. Second, trim away the unhealthy roots. Third, place it in fresh soil — in a place with room to grow.

People can be rootbound, too. I had a friend whose mother (like the woman at the well in John 4) married five times and was engaged to a sixth when Treena moved out. One year into her own marriage, Treena decided she’d chosen “the wrong person” and was ready to file for divorce. A wise counselor told her, “Of course you think that. Divorce is Rootboundnormal for you.” You’re being strangled by your roots!

A family I’ve known all my life is rootbound by three generation of substance abuse. The grandfather modelled alcoholism until he died. His three sons drank with him until they discovered drugs. Two are now dead and the third is hopelessly entangled in the roots that choked his brothers to death. Now his son, the third generation, is in rehab, trying desperately to cut away those drug-infested cords. My heart breaks for them. Every day.

But there is light. The surviving son’s wife, herself a recovering addict, has found the One who can disentangle her, whose Word is full of life-giving nutrients, who is in the process of replanting her in a place where she can begin to grow again (and through her, her son and husband, as well, I pray). It’s not pretty. Every day is full of dirt and rot. Her hands and heart are perpetually encrusted. But she’s praying. And so am I.

Are you rootbound? Trim away the lies that choke you–most likely with someone else’s help. Allow yourself to be re-planted in the life-giving soil of God’s word, in an environment where you will not just grow but thrive, bringing joy to the One who planted you, and shade to all who draw near.

Blessings till it hurts. 

nature___rivers_and_lakes_flowering_trees_near_the_water_041725_“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD. They will be like trees planted near the water, that extend their roots into the stream and do not fear when the heat comes. Their leaves will remain green and they will not grow anxious in the year of drought. Nor will they cease to yield fruit.”  ~Jeremiah 17:8

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Rootbound

  1. Jon Kissner says:

    Great post (and reminder) Mitch. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, that woman at the well was really something, wasn’t she? In her culture, she’d been about as cast-off and abused as anyone could imagine. Yet there she was, drawing water, intelligent, inquisitive, and after sorting things out with Jesus, willing to go back to a village that must have hated her to try and share good news. Curious. Open. She loved those who judged and excluded her enough to tell them the Truth. By some accounts, the longest one-on-one interaction reported in the gospels

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill Sweeney says:

    Another great post, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Are you Rootbound? | Let the Spirit In

  5. An excellent analogy, Mitch! It helps us to better understand how our past can “tangle” with our present! Very profound!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. numrhood says:

    jeremiah 42:33


  7. Insightful! I think that’s the best way to describe this post

    Liked by 1 person

  8. nancyehead says:

    Great metaphor, Mitch! Great message! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. M.B. Henry says:

    So moving, love the metaphor. Praying for happiness and healing for all the rootbound.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. toutparmoi says:

    Great post and lovely metaphor. Rootbound – bound by our roots. So true. And it takes great faith to break free.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fantastic post, Mitch! A splendidly poignant and pertinent metaphor. I’ve been thankful for the replanting God has done in my life and pray for it in others’ lives as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. KD Manes says:

    Reblogged this on kdmanestreet and commented:
    Are you rootbound? Trim away the lies that choke you and allow yourself to be replanted in the life-giving soil of God’s word.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ann Coleman says:

    Very true, and timely. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. revruss1220 says:

    Great post and great reminder. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Gritty Momma says:

    Thank you so much for this honest, compassionate portrayal of addiction and the brokenness that leads to ruined lives… rather than just condemning “bad choices.” I also love the rootbound metaphor. I certainly have plenty of that in my life! The divorce example you gave is a great one of how that can play out.

    I would add, too, that seeking nourishment from the Lord doesn’t consist solely of reading the Word. Too often we neglect the notion that the work of the Spirit is just as vital and necessary, and it often works itself through relationships with other Christians–i.e., others blessed with the presence and guidance of the Spirit. We tend to neglect the helpfulness of practical, professional help as well, claiming the *literal words on the page* from the Bible are all we need. Well, if we don’t thoroughly work those words out, we’re missing a lot–the Bible has an awful lot to say about wise counsel, good friends, loving one another, providing for physical and emotional needs, etc. Nodding our heads and then limiting these scriptural truths to just “Christian” ways of dealing with them–which often means just the best attempts of psychologically uneducated, well-meaning, but socially inept church leaders–cuts us off from the vital resources the most hurting people truly need. Common grace in the world has achieved **much** in the way of developing and discovering ways to help addicts, abuse victims, mental health cases, parenting struggles, etc. etc. Let’s not cut ourselves off from this grace by burying our noses in the Good Book and refusing to see at God at work in the world around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Such a carefully crafted metaphor, Mitch. Well done! I am SO thankful for the encouragement, instruction, and wisdom God has provided in his Word. Just as you’ve said, it’s full of life-giving nutrients. I’m also thankful for wise, caring mentors in my early years, who helped me grow in God’s direction. It is a happy/blessed state to live each day trusting in him!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well-stated. I find my own struggles, of which he had scant knowledge, were somewhat repeated by my son. He had the good sense, though, to see that I had mastered my demons and so has chosen to look through my present eyes. This was only possible by reliance upon God.

    Liked by 1 person

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