A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Seeds sown on rocky ground: Lessons about the abuser’s mentality

[July 1, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  (Matthew 13:20-21  ESV)

True story

An abusive husband spread a barrowload of soil and gravel over a concrete path that wasn’t being used in the family’s garden. Result: soil 3-5 inches deep, with solid concrete underneath. Then he sowed some flower seeds in the soil.

When he showed his wife what he’d done, she thought “This is crazy! You gotta be kidding!” but she didn’t say that out loud because she knew it would be irritating to him, so she just praised him for his hard work and achievement. She’d learned a while back not to say anything negative about what he did in the garden, or make any suggestions about how he could improve it. All such comments were taken as offensive criticism and ingratitude.

Here is the result: a picture of Christ’s parable about seeds sown on rocky ground. On the left upper of the picture you can see the plants that have just plain karked (slang for died) it. The rest are slowly dying of thirst.



Solid concrete under the soil. How could anyone think that is conducive to anything growing? But it’s a great illustration of where a farmer / pastor / husband has his mind made up, and goes ahead and does it anyway without consulting the GARDENER.

Since this photo was taken there has been more rain. The dead plants are still dead, but the plants that were dying in this picture are upright and managing to grow a bit (apart from insects eating holes in their leaves). Maybe that’s a good picture of all those unbelievers we have in the church who look fine, when the environment isn’t too testing.

The seeds on rocky ground parable also illustrates many abusers in their “Christian” journey. They may appear to respond to the Gospel at first and show signs of being true believers. But sooner or later the promising signs die away and their character deteriorates (shows its true colours). Their Christian “walk” becomes just a superficial pretence. And it becomes clearer and clearer that they don’t actually have the Spirit of Christ.

[July 1, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to July 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 1, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 1, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 1, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Makes that parable come alive, doesn’t it? And such a perfect illustration of the crazy-making things abusers do and the way they bend and manipulate those closest to them so they only hear what they want to hear.

  2. Pippa

    Oh dear, have to laugh. Sounds so familiar. But he avoided the weeds, didn’t he? Sometimes it’s very difficult to know the A’s motive!

    • Actually, there were weeds growing there too, but the survivor pulled them out before taking the photo.

  3. Liz

    Great illustration! Sometimes I still can’t understand that since detaching why I cannot now respond to any niceness he has shown since that time. It’s because he didn’t take care of the garden over so many years and this is what it yielded, for him that is. For me, I’m healing and preparing to move on!

    • Yes Liz, also (for me) if I responded to any niceness he showed, it would place me in danger of further manipulation from him. Or at least, he would think I was becoming more malleable to his tricks again. We don’t want to set up false hopes, do we? 🙂
      With my first ex, he started to show a lot more concern for me at the same time as he was working up to abusing our daughter big time (two years post-separation). My gut immediately told me not to trust his overtures of niceness. I’m glad it did. But after he did the nasty stuff on our daughter, I looked back and saw that he had been trying to groom me to put me off the scent of what he was planning to do. UUGGHHHH. It sends shivers down one’s spine.

  4. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    As a keen gardener, I know even if that rocky patch of ground is left it will soon sprout plenty of weeds. There may not be enough depth for good plants to grow well, but most weeds do not need much depth to grow. In fact, most weeds do not require any particular type of ground. Give them a tiny crevice and that seed is in and if left they are soon in and bedded so tightly and extremely hard to remove.

    This is why it’s so important not to give the devil any foothold in your life. One little inkling of an abuser, we need to make sure that person gets nowhere to lay down their roots. I was told once after I separated that I need to be careful who I let root themselves in my life again. I was especially warned do not let them stay in your home. I know re my last abuser I was told never let them back in your home.

    Once we give a little foothold, by their nature weeds soon send down roots and some are so fine you will never get rid without major work and total removal of your ground and totally destroying everything and starting afresh. The open ground, just left, develops plenty of tiny little plants and very quickly they sprout and set seeds of their own and very quickly your patch is riddled. Any good veg grower will tell you repeated, even daily, hoeing will uproot those weeds that the sun will also dry up, just like those plants you wanted to grow in bad rocky ground. Denying them access is hard, but not impossible, as more and more new [missing word and / or phrase] stops weeds from rooting. Do not use any prevention and somehow they get in, they blow in with the wind, almost slipping in unseen. But once you notice, if you do not uproot them right away even from shallow ground, you reap all the rewards of a riddled patch of all kinds of weeds. Not all looking the same, and actually some weeds are great disguisers with pretty flowers too.

    A weed really is a plant in the wrong place, but by their nature have properties of their own which can even be of some good medicinally, some can even be eaten as substitutes for other similar plants, some have tannins and oils that can even clean or prevent fungus. Doing some good if used, but ultimately left will kill and destroy. They are only out for themselves, only out to take over, and you are not going to survive if you don’t act.

    Many weeds have a purpose, but if you leave them to develop and gain root, they fast bring others and they will take over and they choke. Many abusers will manipulate, even seem as if doing good, but underneath the surface they are spreading fine roots, even a tap root in deep good ground or into a crevice that will prove immensely, virtually impossible, to get shot of. They may have not much depth, but they only need a tiny foothold to eventually become a major stronghold with allies and choke all that’s good around, so only they grow and are fed in order to produce more of themselves.

    You leave that patch full of weeds and what happens soon [is] other seeds form and not only is that patch affected, you suddenly find areas of good ground riddled, and some weeds if given good ground dig down deep with tap roots like dandelions and if you do not get all of the root out they will just keep reappearing. Soon your garden is no longer the pretty flower showcase, but a mess and unsightly and unruly looking and guess what? Soon whole areas are infested and so it spreads. By their nature, that’s why we call a weed a weed, because they are a plant in the wrong place and doing something you most definitely do not want.

    Apply that to Christian life and the church and we soon see while some who come across our lives or doors have the appearance of being ok [they actually aren’t OK]. You may even not fully involve them in the deep workings of church life and ministry, but their intent is to steal that ground, kill off others who compete for their food.

    Yes, a christian (small “c”) may from time to time seem ok (some weeds are self-providers pumping their own nutrients into the ground that they feed on to grow). That may benefit and boost other plants, but ultimately, it is for themselves to grow well and reproduce. A weed can actually seem stronger than other plants around, some can mimic other plants or even be related. They seem like they have gifts that are good and purposeful, but they are thugs and will leave a trail of destruction and devastate patches of good plants, if you do not recognise them and clear them out. There can’t be ANY compromise if you want to grow as intended. Prevention is key – don’t let them in!

    However for many of us, we have found an abusive weed(s) has tapped in and put down roots or is seeking to, and [it] is here seeking help to remove, and others help for recovery (replenishing the nutrients into our good ground) after that uprooting. We must keep every sign of these thugs out from taking hold. It may even take removing ourselves and washing ourselves totally from any fibre of abuse and abuser and being relocated somewhere else.

    I have a potted shrub out in my garden. It was given to me by a new neighbour. They are not gardeners, but it was left by the previous owner who had neglected it. But I noticed whilst the pot had a lovely plant that needed a lot of TLC, it was being choked to death by the weeds underneath and literally was covered with a mass of chickweed. Chickweed is tasty. If you like watercress, it’s from the same family. It’s the same delicate peppery taste, but it’s a weed. It’s drawing all the goodness from the ground underneath that shrub, just to serve it’s own self-sustenance and survival. It’s a rampant grower, and when I received it, that shrub was dying and leaves falling. The pot was fine, the soil was good, but they had with neglect allowed in an invader.

    I’ve continually weeded that ground and tried to get as much root as possible out from [under] the plant [shrub] which now is healthier and is flowering again. Why? Simply because I keep clearing [weeds] and not letting the plant [weeds] take over. The thug though has not left, and still there only too ready and willing to get back at what it does best. I will never eradicate that weed from that pot unless I uproot all and remove every bit of soil that may hold a minute fibre or seed and wash down, removing every tiny root or fibre from the weeds and re-potting somewhere else, but at the moment I’m only creating a little room for that shrub to breathe and help to grow, even to flower and bring beauty. Given a chance that weedy thug will be back and the shrub as I first received it – in an ugly very sorry looking state, falling apart and dying.

    At the moment there are great signs of promise if regularly weeded, but it will wither and die of lack of nutrients and water if even for a short time left unchecked.

    We can learn so much from gardening, and btw for me I’ve found it to be extremely therapeutic in my lonely days of healing and recovery. Sometimes God just speaks via a leaf or a little buzzing bee about His work. Is it any wonder God’s first man was placed in a garden and God met him there every day.

    Some thoughts for your pondering.

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