Rootbound: How to Get Untangled

Photo 268039132 / Rootbound © Ana Sha |

Rootbound plants are wrapped in their own roots. Like an ingrown toenail, growth has gone inward instead of outward. 

And inward is no place to grow. 

Roots should spread. Deep and wide.

Spiritual roots can bind too. 


Tighter than duct tape, they can hold us hostage. I felt stuck. For years.

Scripture speaks of several problem roots.

Roots That Chase

These roots search for the one thing that will satisfy. They just look in all the wrong places. While the chase is outward, it’s driven by self. A need. A want. We see one example in the verse below. 

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV

Only One satisfies. Remember your first Love. 

Bitter Roots

These roots turn in. 

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 (This refers to apostasy, a turning away from God.)

Before you dismiss this one, let’s talk bitterness. A laundry list of things causes it. 

Hurt, anger, shame. Hurting people hurt other people. 

That pain can be vented on God too. So much so that we blame Him rather than come to Him for healing.

But there’s a cure for those tangled roots, the ones that curl like a python around our necks. The tangles aren’t permanent, though they may feel that way. 

There’s room for those roots to spread and grow. To be rooted and established in love. 

Freedom How-Tos:

1. Untangle the roots. Untangle by shifting your focus from you to Him. 

a) Chasing Roots: What have you substituted for Him? Where are you going for comfort, thrills, or value?

b) Bitter Roots: Identify the feelings or hurts that choke you. 

Lay them at His feet. Release them. 

If necessary, cut them. 

For me, it was a grieving period. God said, “Enough. Move on.” 

Shift your focus. 

2. Soak. Soak in the water of the Word and in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Soak in prayer.

Soak in worship.

Soak in thankfulness.


3. Transplant. Move from the too-small container of self and plant your roots in His inexhaustible love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17b-19

Send your roots deep. Drink in His goodness. Thrive under His care. Untangle.

Questions and Activities:

1. Examine your roots. What do you chase? What causes you to turn inward? If you’re not sure, ask your friends and family. Are you willing to redirect your roots back to God?

2. In the Parable of the Soils (Luke 8:5-15), each soil affects the plant roots differently. What in the culture, at school, church, and home have similar effects?

Hardened path:

Stony ground:

Weedy patch:

Fertile field:

3. List everything you know about roots. Ask God to reveal something about your roots. 

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