Recently, my husband and I faced a serious disappointment. We had been working toward something for several years, and had gotten so close to fulfilling our dream. And then, after all of the hours and days and months and years of hard work, we got our answer. "No."
Really? No?! After everything we put into this, we get a no? It was really hard to face that gut-wrenching outcome. But that was our new reality. There was some anger and bitterness, and a few tears. And then my husband told me a story he had heard many years before of an overgrown currant bush, told by Hugh B. Brown back in 1973. His story, "The Currant Bush" from LDS.org, follows:
I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
(You can read the whole story here.)
Elder Brown goes on to talk about a time many years later when he was serving in the Canadian Army. He was eligible for a promotion to General, and had been working toward that rank for 10 years. When he went in for the interview, he was told that he was completely qualified for the promotion but would not be receiving it due to his being a Mormon. In his following moments of bitterness, he remembered the conversation he'd had with his overgrown currant bush. Only this time, he was the bush that had grown so tall, and the Master, the gardener.
I have no doubt that there's something for us to learn from all of this. That lofty goal that we had and almost achieved must not have been part of His plan. And although it is so heartbreaking right now, I have faith that there will come a time when we will thank our Gardener for cutting us down.