October 6, 2013

Bloom Where You Are Planted

When I was young, my mother loved Mary Engelbreit. She had cards, books, plates and blankets all with the saying, "Bloom Where You Are Planted."

I never thought much about this saying. I was busy trying to decide how I would become famous. I'm not sure where this thought or idea came from. I just felt that somehow I was destined for greatness.

As I've matured, my definition of greatness has changed. I've realized that I don't need to be famous to be great and that I truly am destined for greatness, just of a different kind than I always anticipated. I've come to understand that my earlier vision of greatness came from seeking the esteem of men. Yes, it's true that as a child, I envisioned myself as a singer on stage, a movie-star, an Olympic gymnast, as the General Relief Society President and saving people from burning buildings and cars.

And why, you ask, did I want to do these things? The answer I'm afraid was so that people would think that I was great. (I would be lying if I didn't admit to still having dreams in the night about doing some of these very things) But, as I ponder the most influential people in my life, I realize that they are just people. Faithful, hardworking neighbors and friends who have served me and loved my family. And to me they are the truest form of great.

Now, I'm not saying that we should not set our sights high, and hope to bless the entire world and share our talents. Even the scriptures teach us that "where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18) I'm only saying that the Lord measures our successes differently that we do, by small and simple means are great things brought to pass...and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37: 6-8) 

I learned an important lesson last year as I was praying and fasting to help my dear friend Hollie. She lived far away and I wasn't able to visit her in her time of need. She was struggling with the recent birth of her son who had surprisingly been born with down syndrome. Her vision of what her son would be changed in an instant, and she was struggling to find peace and assurance that everything would be okay. As I prayed and fasted fervently on her behalf, the names of two of my neighbors kept coming into my mind. For two days I kept thinking of my neighbors, despite my best efforts to petition the Lord on behalf of my sweet friend Hollie, hundreds of miles away. Finally, I stopped trying to "council the Lord" and instead turned to him and asked how I might be of service to my neighbors? In that instant, the Lord taught me a valuable lesson.

"This is My vineyard and I am the Gardener. I need you to serve where you are. I can help all my children when my servants are faithful in their part of the vineyard."

This impression came to me strongly and I accepted the Lord's proposal. I would serve my neighbors in their time of need and have faith that the Lord would send other's to bless Hollie.

A few days later I spoke to my dear friend on the phone. Through tears of hope, she described to me the outpouring of love and service she had received from many of her neighbors. She felt the Lord's love and confidence in her for this new assignment she had been given.

I marveled that the Lord had answered my prayers through the service of others. I realized that I needed to "Bloom Where I was Planted." I realized that my reach couldn't save all of the hungry children of Africa, or bring the gospel to the Nation of China, but that I could love those around me faithfully, and that I could find contentment and success in simple expressions of faith  and service to my family, my ward and my community.

I'm not sure why I ever wanted to be famous or associated it with greatness. But I do know that we can accomplish great things as we live one day at a time on the Lord's errand.

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