Last night I was missing my Alice and my heart was breaking. My memories of her have been really fading lately, and she feels less and less real. Losing my memories of her feels like she is slipping away all over again. As I cried last night I felt confused and honestly angry with God. How could He do this to me? How could He let her die? Then I saw a video my friend shared. It touched me deeply and was exactly what I needed to hear. I will include it here, but if you’d rather read, I have paraphrased below. (I highly recommend you watch it, because I love it.)
(God gives us trials and correction) to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us. President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down. Years later, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general in the Canadian Army. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered: (continued in comments) Years later, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general in the Canadian Army. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:
“I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall.
“And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …
“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”
I am still far from being able to thank God for this trial, but these words struck deeply in my soul. I even recognized my own question, “How could He do this to me?”.
I felt so humbled when I heard that gentle, yet powerful reminder from God, "I am the Gardener here. I know what I want you to do."
It is hard to trust God, and I am not perfect at it, but I do believe that He has a plan. That He knows who he wants me to be. Although losing Alice is the trial of my life, I have to believe that it will help shape me into the woman God has in mind for me to become.
Before Alice's death was the happiest time of my life. I felt good about who I was, and I was confident I was on the path God wanted me to be on. Looking back, I must have been like the currant bush, growing so high, but bearing no fruit. Growing well, but not exactly how God wanted me to be. Sometimes in my prayers I say “How could you do this to me? I've done everything I could to measure up! How could you do this to me?”
It is still tremendously difficult. I do not meant to imply that suddenly Alice's death became "ok". However, I believe God is a loving God who knows the end from the beginning. He doesn’t give us trials haphazardly. They are given to us to help refine our souls and mold our character. I won’t pretend like I know what His purpose in giving me this trial is. I still have so many questions that spin around in my brain, but even knowing there is a purpose, yet to be revealed to me, gives me hope. He truly gives us hope when hope is gone. He is the Gardener, and He knows who He wants us to be.
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