A message to women: Ways to help find a pathway to peace

By Alan Hall

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Please know this is the case. For he does care for us and is always willing to nourish and provide us with his light and power so that like beautiful flowers, we too may flourish and become magnificent.

With this story in mind, and a flower garden as a metaphor for all of our lives, how then might we beautify our own flowerbeds?

Here are two steps that with God’s help, we can implement in our lives to help feel an increased measure of personal peace, joy and happiness.

First, we must ask God to change our hearts and remove our destructive habits. It is vital that we take a step back and examine carefully and honestly our own personal flowerbeds.

What do we see? Are we weed free or are there weeds in our garden that need pulling? Have harmful insects been removed or are there multitudes of voracious bugs eating everything in sight? Is our garden receiving sufficient sunlight or is it constantly in the shadows? Is it full of amazing life or is it dying? Are we happy with what we find or is there work to be done?

A thoughtful review of our lives will provide the answers we seek.

As I interview people in my calling as stake president, I often find that their gardens need immediate attention. Unrepented sin easily kills personal progress and joy. Guilt and shame tend to stifle growth like nothing else. Harboring ill will towards others is debilitating and consumes enormous amounts of time and energy when we won’t forgive and forget.

Are there other flaws holding us back from growing a lovely garden? Perhaps we punish one another, reproving harshly those who might step out of line. Or it could be that we are proud, arrogant and condescending, seeing ourselves as superior to others. Maybe our garden is filled with rebellion, envy, jealousy and stubbornness; an unwillingness to bend or compromise. Perhaps we lack focus, discipline and order. The list of vices and imperfections seems to be limitless.

Please know that at the very moment we remove from the garden of our lives even one unhealthy habit, joy, peace and happiness can replace it once again. When we deliberately push grievous misdeeds from our minds and our hearts, we are free to receive the full joy that God can place in our hearts.

Take the time to honestly examine your gardens and seriously inspect yourselves, asking, “What am I doing to my garden that is keeping me from growing to my true potential? What is holding me back from completely experiencing all the happiness that God has in store for me?”

I know it may seem daunting and maybe even a bit frightening, but please know that an all-powerful God will rescue us if we ask him to do so. Please know he will help us.

I have pleaded with him to change my heart on several occasions as I have had several things over the course of my life that have been difficult to shake. I have made errors and committed transgressions — albeit, nothing serious. But still, I struggled and knew I could not overcome these trials by myself.

During these times, I would pray to my Heavenly Father saying, “Please take this out of my heart. Remove it from my nature. Change me so this is no longer who I am. I don’t want to be this way.” And as I prayed with sincerity and genuineness and worked to change them, those wicked habits were taken from me.

Second, we must invite him to take our heavy burdens and heal our pierced hearts.

On occasion, metaphorically speaking, severe personal storms may destroy our personal gardens. It might be heavy and wet snow, destructive hail or a fierce windstorm that kills and uproots our tender plants. Perhaps vicious underground insects are to blame for a withered garden, or malicious feet that trample unprotected flowers.

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