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Reader Voices: My gardener has brought lessons of patience, love and understanding

By Todd Wangsgard

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

With a great big smile and in his labored speech, Jason said something simple, yet intensely profound. (Even Gerlinde hadn't sensed the deeper meaning behind what she was about to tell me. As the father of a new baby with Down syndrome, I was deeply moved by the meaning of Jason's proposition.) Jason said, "Mrs. B, your lawn is the pits! Let me be your gardener. Let me be your gardener!"

It hit me. In a very real way, Bridger was sent to me to be my gardener. And during the next several decades, he will pluck from the recesses of my heart and mind the weeds of prejudice, misunderstanding, intolerance and selfishness. He will replace them with an abundance of patience, love, understanding and joy! This was our Heavenly Father's way of gently putting his hand on my shoulder and whispering into my ear, "Todd, my son, your lawn is the pits! Please, let me be your gardener!"

Bridger is 4 1/2 years old and doing extremely well in his development. He underwent open heart surgery at 5 months old to repair two holes in his internal heart walls and experienced a near-perfect recovery. We are so blessed to live in a time and place when modern medicine and technology are readily available to give kids like him increased chances at success in life. This "routine" heart repair, in fact, likely doubled his life expectancy.

More importantly, Bridger's sweet, innocent and joyous outlook will inspire all who know him to become better examples of Jesus Christ-like living. Perhaps that's a fourth surprise I hadn't surmised. Our lives will be transformed for the better by having been touched by his!

Todd Wangsgard holds a Ph.D. in leadership and organizational change and is a senior consultant for the FranklinCovey Co. Email: todd@toddwangsgard.com

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