Monday, May 19, 2014

The Dark Days of Faith


In March Iowa was covered in snow and the temperature was still in the single digits. I was despairing that spring would ever come and so, in a burst of optimism, I went to the garden store and filled my cart with seeds, potting soil, and containers. I came home and spent the afternoon  planting an exorbitant amount of tiny tomato, pepper, and flower seeds. When I was done I was proud. They looked so nice and  fresh set out in my front hall and they gave me a much needed jolt of optimism.

Yet not long after planting them I began to worry that they wouldn't grow. I'd never started seeds indoors before and several friends, after seeing mine, had told me they hadn't had much luck doing it that way. My spirits were also a bit low, as the long winter had taken a toll on me, and so every day for two weeks I walked past my seeds and worried that they wouldn't grow. I knew that seeds take time, and that some take quite awhile to germinate, but after a few days with no sign of growth I was convinced I had wasted my time and my energy.  My optimism had worn off and I was feeling despondent.

One morning as I was watering them I exclaimed out loud to Rose, my four-year-old, that these seeds probably weren't going to grow. In response she patted my hand with hers and told me "Mom, have faith that they will grow. Have hope." In fact, every day for a few week she reminded me that she had hope they would grow. Her words were sweet and reminded me that I just had to give them time and not give up on them, even though it seemed like nothing was happening.

Several weeks after planting I spied the first green shoot pushing out of the soil and I nearly did a back flip. I was so excited. I have seen things sprout before but this time, perhaps because I'd been so worried they wouldn't grow, I truly rejoiced. Rose, on hearing my happy exclamations, came over and smiled knowingly, "See mom, I told you to have faith." 



I have been nurturing and watching these little plants for the last few weeks and many of them are thriving. In fact, they are just about ready to be transplanted out into my garden. Even though they are doing well now and I can rejoice at how big and beautiful they are getting, I haven't forgotten how dark those first few weeks were when I thought they would not grow. How I had almost given up on them and how foolish and stupid I felt for even trying.

It was a simple experience but it taught me a lot about faith. I realized that faith is what you do when your life is dark, when you don't understand, when you don't believe, when you don't see. Faith is planting the seeds and then watering them, day after day, even when you see no growth. It is faith that gets you through those dark days, the days when it seems like nothing is changing, nothing is growing, and there is no prospect of success. It is faith that motivates you to move, to do, to try.

Faith is the dark time.

Yet, as Rose reminded me, faith's sister is hope. It is hope that reminds us that even though things look bleak and dead, that we never know what is going on below surface. It is hope that brings light, that promises us that there are things happening that we can not comprehend-- seeds  sprouting, moving, pushing and growing. New life just waiting to happen.


Several Sundays ago Asher came home from Primary with news that his friend's Grandma was dying. He was distressed by it and we had a good talk about death and resurrection, and how after we die we will be buried in the ground but, through Christ's power, we will live again in our bodies. He seemed to understand and  I chalked it up as a "good mother" moment.

The next day we were planting pea seeds in the garden. As I placed a tiny seed into the ground and covered it with soil it struck me how strange it was. How strange that in order for this seed to live I had to bury it, hide it from my view, and then wait patiently until it came alive and gave me peas. As I continued down the row planting peas my thoughts turned to my conversation with Asher about death and burial and how strange it is that we bury people in the ground too.

Then, in the middle of planting, I was struck with a powerful thought. What if the reason we bury people in the ground is because they are like seeds?  Could it be that burying someone in the earth is symbolic? That just like I was putting "dead" peas in the earth, hoping they would grow, that the process of burying a body in the ground  is also an act of faith? Perhaps it is not so much that we are not loosing our loves ones but rather "planting" them with the hope that one day the power of God will  "quicken" them and that they will arise.

I thought about the family in our ward who was facing the death of their loved one. I thought about how hard that must be for them and how sad their hearts must be. I thought about a friend who is struggling with depression and how her life often seems dark and hopeless. I thought about an email I had received from someone who was struggling with her testimony and felt she lacked understanding. Then I thought about my tiny seedlings and how I had planted in faith-- buried them in the darkness-- and then almost despaired that they would ever grow.

Yet the beautiful things is....my plants grew.  I had planted good seeds, in good soil and had watered them in faith. And out of the darkness came new life, new growth, and new understanding.



I know there are times in our life when we have to do things on faith. When we have to bury, water, believe, and keep going through those dark days when we do not understand and when we can not see. Those times can be hard.

Faith can be hard.

Yet just remember that there are forces working in our lives that we can not see. That just below the surface there is power that causes seeds to sprout, questions to be answered, minds to heal, and people to arise from the dead. That power is hope and, while it doesn't necessarily mean that the dark days of faith will be any easier, it is the promise that new life, new joy, and new understanding are just centimeters away... pushing themselves towards the light.

So don't give up on it.


20 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I love the symbolism you pointed out. Great post!

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  2. Beautiful! I have tears streaming down my face :)

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  3. many thanks for your thoughts. This was so wonderful!

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  4. Amen! Great post, great thoughts. Congrats on your abundant seedlings. You're kind of like Abraham and Sarah now, with the numberless amount of food you will glean from your seedlings.

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  5. This is so beautiful in its simplicity. Thank you so much for sharing! I hope I will remember this next time things are feeling hopeless, because it seems like a perfect analogy.

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  6. beautiful post. i think you would love this book http://www.amazon.com/Plant-Kiss-Amy-Krouse-Rosenthal/dp/0061986755/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400601691&sr=8-1&keywords=plant+a+kiss.

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  7. I have often thought, it is no coincidence that mortality started in a garden. Beautiful thoughts, as always.

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  8. Thank you. I am in the dark days and it seems as if the "seeds won't be growing"...after all. I have gotten to the point of just accepting it.. and to try and make the best of it. But maybe I am wrong? Maybe something IS growing that I just cannot see yet? I don't want to get my hopes up... But maybe I am supposed to?? Hope is faith's sister, you say? Anyway, thanks for these beautiful words... xo

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    1. I will send prayers your way! Hang in there. Good seeds always grow, sometimes they just take awhile... but there are things happening that you can't see. I promise you that!

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  9. This is a beautiful post, particularly in its simplicity. What a life lesson learned by you and your family. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

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  10. Wonderful reminders about faith and her sister hope!

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  11. I've never considered the symbolism of burial. You've given me a lot to think about. Great post!

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  12. These are some really neat insights. Thanks for sharing. My husband has never liked the Primary song "Faith" because they say "faith is like a little seed," but actually, the *word* is the seed, and faith is the act of planting the seed. You explained it well.

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    1. Love this clarification about the seed being the word and faith is the act

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  13. So clearly expressed! Beautiful!

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  14. Beautiful post! It reminded me of the scripture in Moses: "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me."

    After my Institute teacher taught me about that, I just keep on finding similitudes everywhere!

    Also, I remember that he said: "There are times when you won't see any growth on the outside, because all the growth is taking place inside... Many of us get discourage because we don't see "the fruit" but we fail to understand that this is the time for the roots to grow and to get strengthen..."

    Thanks for sharing Heather :) I enjoy so much reading your posts!!

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  15. I needed this. Thank you. It's beautiful.

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  16. You are adorable. This is a beautiful post. I am glad your faith pays off so well <3 Love you so much, Mom.

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  17. So beautifully written. Thank you!

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