One of my earliest memories of understanding what faith meant was in my early formative teenage years. At church one Sunday we received one small grain of mustard seed, carefully taped onto a beautifully decorated card with the scripture from Mark 17:20 “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto you.” I don’t remember very much from the lesson, but I remember pondering what that meant later at home. I ran my fingertip over and over this little seed. Studying and looking at it. That tiny little mustard seed, barely the size of a pen tip. I began thinking that surely if that is all it takes how hard could it be? It seemed like something I could do. Something attainable. I’m not a competitive person, but I’m loyal and steady and in that moment I decided to plant my seed of faith.
Throughout my teenage and college years I began to nourish it. When I was exposed to other outlets and other opportunities, they seemed frivolous and meaningless compared to my time spent getting my hands dirty and tending to my garden. In my private hours of prayer, fasting, church attendance, and scripture study, my roots were sinking deeper and deeper.
After marrying my prince charming we began what we thought would be the “trial of our faith.” We waited long and hard through much tears and heartache to start a family of our own, and were finally blessed with the girl of our dreams. The most beautiful, happy, perfect little human being there ever was. There were times I wondered if it could even be possible to love her as much as we did. We cherished her. When we held her tight I would reflect on my little plant and marvel at the sweat and tears in the form of a tiny little green tip out of the ground. I was so proud of it. The watering and nurturing of my tiny little seed, through the help of the Savior’s Atonement was sprouting. I was in a continual state of gratitude.
On the morning of January 16, 2015 I carefully turned my two year and five month old daughter’s bedroom door and stepped into her room. As my eyes fell onto her flush white face my breath left me and my heart sank. But almost instantaneously I felt a warm rush over my body. It was a flame that had been burning inside of me for a long time, but in that little moment of stepping in and stepping forward, something ignited within me a torch of flame. My faith encircled around me as I cradled my lifeless daughter, and I was rescued by the warmth, the knowledge, the hope, and the dedication, of a tiny little seed that I had planted many years before.
In the midst of the madness that followed during the next several hours and days as my life turned upside down and inside out, my faith was doing the walking, breathing, and thinking for me. And when I could not do it alone I had help from both sides of the veil, as Jeffrey R. Holland has said as my “horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see (came) riding at reckless speed” to protect me, help me, and guide me. It’s hard to explain what this feels like, but I have thought so much about it over the last few months as I have sat helplessly in a small corner of my garden.
When Marjorie was taken on the wings of angels back to heaven that fateful January morning she left a whole world behind asking “why?” Not Marjorie, anyone but Marjorie. Our trial of faith was in the arrival of Marjorie, not an unexpected early departure.
In the past few months it has been cloudy with downpours of steady teardrops in my tiny little garden of faith. I have lain down and sobbed in the mud, I have stomped on the dirt, I have thrown a rock or two, or three, or four. I have felt as if the sun will not shine again, but just when I’m about to pull out the plant I think of these words by Russell M. Nelson:
Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Prior to our birth we dwelled as spirit children with our Father in Heaven. There we eagerly anticipated the possibility of coming to earth and obtaining a physical body. Knowingly we wanted the risks of mortality, which would allow the exercise of agency and accountability. "This life (was to become) a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God." But we regarded the returning home as the best part of that long-awaited trip, just as we do now. Before embarking on any journey, we like to have some assurance of a round-trip ticket. Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—and not around—the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live. As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven.
Like on that dreadful January morning, almost instantaneously in the moments and hours of need the clouds part. I am rescued, I am warm, I know, I hope, and I rededicate myself and my life to the Savior and His glorious plan. My flickering faith in His everlasting light ignites my soul. I kneel down as it warms me from head to toe and squint to see my little sprout one inch taller.
A huge thank you to Sara Harding. She not only created a stunning print for all of you,
but she made it in black and white, peach, and mint (you can download these below).