And BECAUSE he lives, my friend's child still lives.
Because He lives, our broken hearts will be whole again.
Because He lives, I have long and glorious moments of peace amidst a churning sea of disappointment and sorrow (infertility -ugh...)
Because He lives, Our lives, and holidays, and homes, and children don't have to be perfect.
Because He lives, we can learn and grow and become better people every day.
I have no doubt that our Father in Heaven loves us deeply. He sent His Son to bring peace and joy and relief to every single one of us. We need only make room to receive it. I got more terrible news this morning about someone we love very deeply, and when combined with last night's email, I didn't feel like I could handle any more. (This is because I'm human, and I often forget all of the things I just wrote above. I forget almost daily. When I forget, I'm unsettled and heartbroken and when I remember to remember, I am once again at peace.)I picked up the new January 2009 Ensign that just came in our mail, and its pages fell open to this:
Gardenias in January
A few years ago I purchased a lovely gardenia plant. I kept it in a large pot and tended it with care, enjoying the fragrant blossoms that came once a year. One year the plant did not produce many blossoms. I wondered what was wrong. I took it inside for the winter and placed it in a sunlit spot, as I normally did. To my surprise, the plant began budding right after Christmas. In January it produced fragrant blossoms. While admiring the beautiful plant, I thought of my friend Anita, who was home enduring the end of a long battle with cancer. Despite treatments, the cancer had returned three times. Though Anita was only in her 30s, the doctors predicted she did not have much time left. It struck me that she might like a hint of spring in her home. I took the gardenia to Anita. When I arrived, she said,
"How did you know Gardenias were my favorite flowers?"
"I didn't," I replied, "but Heavenly Father knew.
These gardenias bloomed in January just for you."
We were silent for a while marveling at the little miracle. Then she said, "I needed this reminder of spring. Thank you."Anita passed away in February, but during the last weeks of her life, she enjoyed the sweet fragrance of her favorite flower. Her husband even pinned one of the gardenias on the inside of her casket. I'm thankful that I was able to witness how the Lord can bless those he loves during their most difficult hours. He gave Anita joy during her pain. He gave her gardenias in January.
-By Wendy Foutz McKinney
There are 80 pages of text that make up the January edition of the Ensign, and THAT was the first page it fell open to. TRANSLATION: My Heavenly Father loves me. He knows I'm struggling, (even though it is at a far lesser level than MOST of His children living on this earth at this current time) and He cares enough to lead me to the answers that will bring the peace I am searching for. My first thought after I read my sweet friend's sad news was "How awful for this to have happened just before Christmas!" But now, in the light of a new day, my reaction is quite different. I think that the better response would NOT be "how awful" so much as it would be "how fitting." What better time to go through a life-altering nightmare than in the season that celebrates the birth of the man who was sent to deliver us from all of it? This is a time for peace and joy and love, and even though tragedy may rock us for a season, (or even a lifetime) He is our constant, always waiting with healing in His wings.
My Savior lives, and because of that, there is no real tragedy.
That is not to say that cancer, car accidents, SIDS, child abuse, suicide, etc.etc.etc. are not tragedies...of course they are. They hurt and they're awful, but they WILL NOT LAST. His joy and peace will surpass them all. In Him, death has truly lost its sting, and our mortal wounds will be made whole again someday. We are all just going to have to sit tight until then, and MOST OF ALL, at this very hard, very beautiful, very special time of year, we need to REMEMBER what it's all really about.