A few weeks ago, when I left the hospital after surgery, my mother gave me a potted flower—a little token of her love to cheer me up. It was vibrant and alive. I left it in my apartment in Provo when I went home to California for a week and a half. I forgot to ask anyone to water my little flower while I was gone. When I came back the flower had wilted and looked beyond saving. I tried to save it anyway. For the first few days, it looked hopeless. All my constant and diligent efforts seemed to be having no affect on the little flower. The flower still drooped and sagged. I decided I would try for a few more days to heal my flower. Soon after, I recognized that my little flower, ever so slightly, began to change. It had begun to perk up and brighten! With renewed resolve I kept up my tender loving care until one day the flower at last looked as good as new! My efforts to save the flower had paid off. I was inspired by the resilience of that little flower.
I recognized that one of my friends is like this flower. When I met him, he seemed despondent and sad. He was stand-offish and easily offended. People had a hard time being around him. I don't know why I ventured to become friends with him, but for some reason, I did. Some friendships are almost natural and are easily maintained. Others take much more effort. For a while, it seemed like I was making all the effort and even then he seemed reclusive and discontent. Finally, after a few months, I began to see a change in him. When I would come over to visit, he seemed happy. I didn't feel so much like such an intruder. A few more months passed and then he began to text me and invite me to church events. I was happy that he valued my support. He is now one of my closest friends. He seems happier now and more hopeful. I am glad he allows me to see his happiness now.
The flower analogy applies to me as well. Back home, I have a next-door neighbor. Her name is Crystal . We met on the first day of third grade. I had just moved to California from Montana and I was slowly walking down the center aisle of the school bus, passing row after row of chairs looking for a free spot to sit when this blonde, bubbly girl asked me to sit next to her. Of course, I said yes! By now, we are like sisters. I tag along on all her family vacations and family reunions, go to family home evenings at her house. I even went to seminary with her during ninth grade. Her family always invited me to church functions and church dances. I had known about the church, thanks to Crystal and her family, for eleven years before I had the courage to join. I was a roller coaster when it came to the LDS church. Sometimes I would feel excited about it and would feel joy when learning about it and then immediately I would squash those thoughts and try to forget about them, turning my joy into bitterness. I investigated twice. Once my Senior year of high school and again my Freshmen year at UCSB. The first time, I let everyone down and backed out. I didn't talk to them for almost nine months. I didn't want to. I had forgotten they were my friends and family and thought they only sought to convert me. How wrong I was. They just loved me. They always had. I came around and was baptized a little over a year ago. How thankful I am they stuck with me through it all. I am so incredibly happy now thanks to their diligence and pure love.
Just as neglect and indifference can make flowers wilt, so can neglect and indifference make people lose hope. If ever a friend or loved one of yours seems to be wilted by the pressures and abuses of the world, tend to them lovingly as you would a flower. If you find yourself struggling under the burden of worry and doubt, a little faith in Christ’s love can be as nourishing as rays of the sun and can help you revive and prosper. Gardens require diligence and patience to grow. Where there was once just emptiness, through love, flowers can thrive. People are like gardens. They have much beauty in them. It is our responsibility to seek it out and to see it fulfill its possibilities. Friendships are like gardens. Testimonies are like gardens. Plant a seed and help it bear fruit. Love is like "Miraclegrow." It makes any ordinary thing become extraordinary. Never underestimate the power of love in restoring others and yourself. Never underestimate the resilience of yourself and others. Venture to care. Be a gardener and see to it things grow.
I am a college student. During college, money can get tight. I think a lot of us have ventured to our food cupboard and looked into it, sighed, and shut it discontent with what’s in there, only to come back an hour later, hopeful that by now something delicious has appeared-- hoping that some of our moms’ fresh homemade bread or cookies or strawberry-rhubarb pie is magically waiting for us. Inexplicably, we always open the cupboard hoping to find something wonderful that was not there before. Even though we might be always disappointed, we always go back and look just one more time. With people though, you never know. Every time it is entirely possible that when you open the cupboard door and peer inside, you will indeed see something different, new, and exciting. It may take a few trips to the cupboard to find anything but eventually something as beautiful as your mom's homemade bread will be there waiting for you to discover it.
(Thank you so much dad for editing this one for me. You are the greatest dad in the whole world! :) )