Easter is coming soon and we are thrilled to be a part of the Easter initiative the LDS Church is producing. We encourage you to ponder upon the Savior and all he has done for us. He is our Prince of Peace and if we follow him and have hope we will receive the promise of Eternal Life. Here are some of my thoughts during this special time of year.
Do you ever overly ponder and analyze the experiences you have in your life to try and figure out why something has happened? I sure do! I pick apart the nitty-gritty details. I’m also the type of person who uses analogies to better understand hard things. The story I’m about to share has helped me understand hope versus despair.
Five and a half years ago I lost my 27 year old son to suicide and my overacting brain continues to struggle and understand why he made the decision he did. Even though he fought with depression I wonder what made him lose all hope and leave behind two small children and all he loved in his life. He did experience hard hurdles, but he had so much going for him, too. I don’t know if I will ever have answers, but a few things have happened to me since then that have enlightened me, given me some peace, and answered a few of my questions. Here’s an example:
Two summers ago I took the opportunity to use some garden space in our community garden plot. I had a 30’x15′ area that I was so excited to work with. The area had already been tilled and the dirt was soft and dark; perfect growing conditions.
I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, two different varieties of squash, carrots, beans, and peas. I was diligent and every day I would drive over to water and check on my precious garden pulling a few small weeds here and there. The waiting began and I was anticipating the harvest and eating the fruits of my labors. Easy peasy!
Soon I noticed little weeds popping up. I started spending more time at the garden than I wanted, but I was determined to be successful. Many of the other gardeners around me had created amazing works of art in their gardens and you could tell they were experienced gardeners. I sure didn’t want to create an eyesore, so down on my hands and knees I went to try and get every weed. No commercial weed killing products were allowed and the mulch I used was not helping. Uugh! This wasn’t fun anymore. I was losing hope.
Later in the summer I left for a week on a family vacation. I worried about what I would come back to in my garden and sure enough the whole garden was overtaken by hundreds of huge weeds. In the heat of the summer I became discouraged and gave up hope as I was beaten by the weeds. I knew the tomatoes and squash would probably produce because they are such hardy and strong plants and can take on harsh conditions. The smaller vegetables never survived being smothered by the weeds and not getting the water and sun they needed.
Eventually, I was able to climb through the four foot weeds and get an abundance of squash and tomatoes.
After my son’s death I never lost hope even though I was in the depths of despair. I knew I would be with him again because of my knowledge of eternal families and that through the atonement of Christ my son would have the opportunity to still repent and get back on the right track. I do have struggles knowing that my son felt so distraught and without hope that he would take his life. I am so sad he felt the way he did and I don’t fully understand what got him to the point he was at and why most people are able to stay strong and continue in their hope.
My gardening experience strengthened my testimony of a few important things. We need our Savior, Jesus Christ, to help us fight the weeds of life. Aren’t there times when life is going so well we aren’t as diligent in our study and prayers thinking we are handling life just fine by ourselves just like in the beginning stages of my gardening. I should have put in the extra work of laying down weed barrier sheets and being more careful with the way I watered. Because I was lazy about that and didn’t take steps to prevent issues a few small weeds started trickling in. My son had stopped going to church and doing things to increase his testimony and give him a barrier to fight back. More temptations crept in and overtook his life. He was struggling just like my small vegetable plants. He had lost the support of the Holy Ghost in his life because of the decisions he made. Eventually the “weeds” in his life were so big he couldn’t fight back. He had lost hope and his ability to remain strong and sure in his jungle of a life. His depression kicked in and he dwindled and withered. I’m sure Satan was there in his mind telling him “you’re a failure”, “you can’t do it”, “just give up”.
Had my son took steps long before his death to strengthen himself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically he would have been able to continue to be strong through all the obstacles before him. He would have been able to stand the rough conditions and produced a successful life just like the squash and tomatoes did in my garden.
Even though this gardening experience is nothing compared to the grief of losing a child it has helped me understand a little more why some people continue to have hope in their trials and trust in God’s promises no matter what and why others completely give up. It’s helped me develop my list of things I need to do to stay hopeful and have peace in my own life. I thought by sharing these with you they might help you to stay hopeful and enjoy life no matter what you are asked to go through.
- Strengthen your faith daily through study and prayer.
- Obey the things you know are right.
- Find opportunities to serve.
- Continue to endure and not give up.
- Stay optimistic.
- Remain calm even in the storms of life.
- Encourage others to do these things.
Life is hard. We know we have been placed on this earth to be tried and tested, but our Savior wants us to succeed and will encourage us with “you can do it”, “you are strong”, “you are worth it” and “I love you”. I pray each day to have the strength to overcome hard things and do what I need to remain hopeful. I want to live with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and have the life promised to me if I do what’s right. I find great comfort in this scripture and the promise it gives.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)
Here’s a bookmark printable I want to give you to encourage you to strive for peace in your life. Remember, our Savior is the Prince of Peace and is there to support and love you through anything thrown in your way.
(3 bookmarks are on the page)