Every spring I grow sunflowers from seed. I get a thrill watching these gigantic flowers bloom. This warmth loving prairie plant actually does quite well in the long Alaska summer days.
This year I knowingly started my seeds four weeks ahead of schedule. It was my turn to teach a group of preschoolers the lesson “S is for seeds”. Each child planted a sunflower seed in an organic pot to take home. I used what was left over for my own starters. One week later seedlings popped up and three weeks later they had outgrown their small 3 inch pots. I knew my sunflowers struggled with their roots restricted. The small pots dried out quickly making the plant wilt, but at night cold winds blew and temperatures still dropped to 38 degrees. Planting the sunflowers outside was risky.
I decided to brave the weather. I dug a few holes in my backyard and put the seedlings in the ground. As soon as I did, the stems drooped over and the leaves sagged. I wasn’t sure if they would survive the night.
When I woke the following morning the first thing I did was peek out the window to check on my sunflowers. They were still alive! Their leaves looked sad, but the stems had managed to hold up.
Over the next week the cold winds continued to blow at night. In response, the stems of the sunflowers grew thicker and stronger until they stood straight and firm. The leaves stretched out and reached for the sun.
My struggling seedlings caused me to think about how I respond to the winds of life. I’m not someone who immediately knows what to do with trial and despair, but given time, I will always respond by strengthening my faith. I’ve grown stronger over the years, but it has not stopped the winds from blowing—winds of doubt, fear, wickedness, short sightedness.
“Remember an unfailing, continual, ever-present source of peace and comfort is available to you. It is the certainty that your Father in Heaven loves you no matter what your circumstance, no matter what winds of trial, turmoil, or tribulation whirl about you.” (Scott, Richard G. The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing. lds.org. General Conference, April 2003. 29 June, 2015)
Now, given several months to recover, my sunflowers are full and healthy and whole. There are no more signs of the adversity they faced as seedlings. Flowers are forming inside a tight cluster of foliage.
I, too, am full and healthy and whole, with no trace of the adversity faced as a child. While winds continue to blow, the suns warm rays feed and rain falls from heaven to nourish me: the light of Christ and the love of God. I stand straight and firm and reach for them.
“I testify that faith in God and in His guidance through the Holy Spirit will sustain you in an increasingly more challenging world.”
“Your exercise of faith builds character. Fortified character expands your capacity to exercise faith. Thus, your confidence in conquering the trials of life is enhanced. And the strengthening cycle continues.” (Scott, Richard G. The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing. lds.org. General Conference, April 2003. 29 June, 2015)