I love flower gardens. I have been to several botanical gardens and am always impressed by not only the beauty, but by the number of years some plants have been growing. My grandmother grew flowers,mostly perennials and flowering bushes. Every Memorial Day she would fill bottles and cans with peonies, lilacs and snowball bush flowers (I'm sure there is a real name for that bush, but I don't know it.) and take them to cemeteries. They called it Decoration Day. My mother didn't really go in for decorating graves and made a bit of a show about leaving Utah and her youth behind her, but I realize now that the main flowers that greeted me each Idaho spring were peonies, lilacs and snowball bushes. I have planted all three as well, along with the bleeding hearts I loved when I was young. In my home of two years, I have two small lilac bushes, three peonies, and a bleeding heart plant but no snowball bushes as yet. She and my dad also grew petunias and snapdragons and a few roses. Me too. I've even added some they didn't grow--lavender, columbine, and plants I don't know the names of. But I digress. This blog is not about flower gardens--it is about THE flower garden, The Garden of Eden. And me.
Let me explain. I believe that Heavenly Father directed his son, Jesus, to create the Earth. I love the creation story and believe it is true, as far as we understand it. I think it took longer than 6 of our days to complete, and I believe that He worked through natural laws. The Garden of Eden would have taken a very long time. In every depiction I have seen, and I know these are only artists' depictions, this garden was lush with every plant, flower and tree that existed then and exists now. Maybe more. The point I am trying to make is that it took time for this beautifully perfect garden to be finished.
I am 62 years old. When I was younger (so much younger than today!) I thought my life would be figured out by this time. I thought I would be finished, not perfect, but well on my way to being something I could present back to my Heavenly Father with satisfaction. I knew I would still be polishing up the rough surfaces, but I'm serious--I thought I would be done with all the hard stuff. I was wrong.
Back to my beautiful garden analogy. It turns out that I wasn't all that ambitious about the garden of my life. I was content with some pesky weeds and as long as I added a few new perennials every year, I was good. My life's garden was a lot like my new house garden--not lush by any means, but pretty in spots. Heavenly Father had more in mind for my stay here on earth.
Gardens take work. I love working in my yard. I like to feel the soil under my fingernails. I like to dig and stretch and water and watch as my efforts make one little patch of yard beautiful. My gardening skills are novice, my budget is tight, but all in all, I take pride in my efforts.
My life garden is okay. In fact, parts of it are beautiful. But it's hard work and I am lazy at times. Good enough has been my overall philosophy. I mean, really. I'm a pretty good writer sometimes. I'm good at crafts. I can cook if I want to. I'm a good teacher. Again, it's hard work and I get tired. The most important part of my life is the honor I have been given to be a mother and grandmother.
Lately, life has been hard. I have a beloved son who struggles with substance abuse and mental health issues. It's hard to always do what's best for him and what's best for me. Weeds like inconsistency, enabling, and excusing crop up, even when I know better. Sometimes I can't tell flowers from weeds, and sometimes I just want someone else to be the gardener for a while. Turns out that, at 62, I'm not done. There's more to do, more to learn if I am to become the mother I want to be, the daughter of God I want to be.
My son's life is also a garden. He has rare and exotic plants and flowers and amazes me with his gardening skills. He also breaks my heart when he lets the garden grow wild, without the care and pruning it deserves. Sometimes I have neglected my own garden, trying to fix his. Neither garden flourishes.
I have been humbled enough by what I considered my failures at parenting, that I have finally asked for help and started listening to people who love me give me counsel and advice. I have knelt in prayer and felt loved and chastised at the same time. I have, figuratively speaking, felt my life garden be redesigned. Borders have been enlarged, soil is being improved with compost and nutrients. Weeds are being pulled out, some of which have long, stubborn roots. New varieties of plants are being brought in, and I have to admit that I'm not completely grateful for the pain of this new growth. Many tears have watered these new plants and I will not even pretend that the work is done.
Eventually, I will be finished and the life I present back to my Heavenly Father, beautified by His hand and perfected by my Savior's Atonement will be much more than I was willing to settle for. Unburdened by my attempts of control, my son will have the chance to allow his life to be changed and healed.
I hope in a few years when I look back, I will be happy that the work made things better and maybe I'll even be able to help other gardeners. Until then, I trust in the Lord and am willing to accept His direction.