Off The Beaten Path …

I first traveled this road a decade ago — just weeks after moving to East Tennessee.  Venturing out from what had quickly turned into a newcomer’s “beaten path,” I took a side road … just to see where it would lead.


As the road curved ahead of me, I became more and more enchanted.


The bridge over the river … and a rolling countryside so different from anywhere else I’d ever lived.  I loved it.  Still do.


But as I continued to drive, the eye of this girl from the South began to notice something.  Do you see it?


It’s aggressive, invasive, destructive …


It’s pervasive — and has a one-track mind.
It lets nothing get in its way …


It’s kudzu … not so fondly referred to by many as “the vine that ate the South.”  A Japanese plant first introduced into the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Wikipedia reports that kudzu has spread at a rate of 150,000 acres per year. First viewed as the solution for soil erosion, one can only hope that new uses for the prolific, virtually impossible-to-eradicate vine will be found. While it’s true that innovative souls are making kudzu baskets and kudzu candles and kudzu paper, there still seems to be an endless supply here in the Southeast.


We can only pray that the medicinal benefits now available only to alcohol- or Alzheimer’s-afflicted lab rats will one day be realized by humans …


While I still wish it weren’t taking over our beautiful roadsides, kudzu has become a useful “visual” for me over the past several years … a reminder of something important.


When life is crazily passing by at a rapid pace … and I’m tempted to take my focus off of things that really matter, kudzu (believe it or not) gets my attention.


I recently attended an event that brought much-deserved recognition to a couple who “took the high road” during a time when many who considered themselves to be “fine, Christian people” were doing everything in their power to tear the couple down. Those were days of intentional behavior — in direct opposition to what is good and Godly.


Days when I grieved … and wondered how — and why — such hateful attitudes had been allowed to take root in people.


How something that began so quietly …


had grown into such a public, injurious attack.


And while I believe that this past week’s thoughtful and well-timed event served to bring some closure and healing to hurtful days gone by, it still made me sad.


Sad to remember how quickly people were willing to tear down another in order to lift themselves up … how deeply words can hurt … how hard it was to watch. How pervasive the evil …


That may explain why the past few years, I’ve found myself making an annual pilgrimage back to this kudzu-covered countryside … to remind myself that good people can make really bad choices — and allow themselves to be pulled into something that is wrong. To re-focus and prayerfully ask for grace to discern what is good for me — and for the Kingdom — and what isn’t … because I don’t ever want to be on the wrong side of obedience. Because I want an attitude of love rather than hatred to permeate my heart.


Because there will always be deadlines and stresses and temptations that weigh heavily on me.  And if I’m not intentional about making good choices, the chances are high that I will make really bad ones.  That the kudzu-like vines of pride and selfishness will choke out kindness and compassion.  That the weeds in my life will overtake the potential beauty.  I don’t want that.

And so I take the drive down the road of remembrance, mindful that the roots of my choices run deep … and the fruit of their consequences affect those around me — for better or for worse.


Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God.
You will always harvest what you plant.
Galatians 6:7


I hope you’ll join me in reflecting … to see if there’s any kudzu-like danger trying to penetrate your heart … so you can kill it before it takes over everything that is good.

I’m linking to Spiritual Sundays at Blogger Spirit and
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch


  1. Oh my this is SO on target. I love this post. I have always been enchanted with Kudzu, being a gal from the South. What a great analogy for the pervading evil around us if we are not careful and “intentional”, as you say, to keep it from taking over. Thank you for this very important reminder!

  2. Such a thoughtful bit of wisdom. Too often, good people are torn down by ‘well-meaning’ people. Our tongues are like a spark of fire(James 3:5-6). With them, we can burn people down or build them up. I hope that these good people you write of are doing well and are blessed.


  3. What a beautiful post! I have always been amazed to see how kudzu can smother all in it’s path. I have so many memory visions of older homes here in SC that were allowed to be overrun with kudzu. While it’s always sort of a wondrous thrill to see it’s also filled with sadness, much like rumors and gossip. Your analogy is dead on. Thank you for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom this Sunday! Bless you!

  4. This is a very powerful analogy of how evil slowly and deliberately takes over…Wow….God bless.

  5. Taking a quick look at the computer, and God lead me directly to this blog. You have no way of knowing it, but he used your words as medicine to me this morning.

    Wonderful, wonderful words.

  6. What a great post! Love the link to the kudzu and always enjoy your blog!

    Dixie Pearls