Well, this week definitely offered me some time for reflection. To start of my letter I'd like to quote a talk by Elder Hugh B. Brown:
"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 (two meters) high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants... So I got some pruning shears and clipped it back until there was nothing left but 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 I heard that currant bush 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.”
... 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 someday, 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. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
Years passed and Elder Brown was denied a promotion in the military he was most certainly qualified for because he was a Mormon. He said, "I was so bitter that I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.
And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” I arose from my knees a humble man. And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to Him and say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.”
Alright, now how does that apply to my week? Well, first let's look at the last 15 months of my mission. I've been working hard to grow to be a tall currant bush in a sense. I've had hard callings, hard areas, and many times, companions who have needed extra love and support. I've been growing and stretching and hardening up, and I was doing a good job at it! But this week I was humbled by the Lord loving me enough to hurt me and cutting me down.
Being hard working and the missionary that's called in to take care of hard situations has been great, and I've been loving it and growing, but probably not in the direction Heavenly Father needed me to....
Now if you want to freak out your Mission President, your mum and dad, your companion, and yourself, just have an anxiety attack that has been building up for 15 months. Haha. It's fabulous. You cry a lot, you make people worry when you call them, and you pray a lot. It's not a pretty site! But amongst it all, you get something figured out. Once I got calmed down for a few days we went to Orange for a conference. President Moeller, who was a Member of the 70 and is now a counsellor in the Mission Presidency, gave me a blessing. It honestly felt like I was getting a second patriarchal blessing. And all my anxiety left. Since then I've probably had the most fun on my mission. And I figured something out....
Back to the currant bush, maybe Heavenly Father doesn't need me to be the tough sister that pushes herself and everyone around her. Maybe He needs me to be sweet and loving. He definitely put me in the position to be humbled and vulnerable this week, so I feel like I need to switch gears out here. I've already learned that I can do hard things. I learned that years ago and I've proved it on my mission plenty of times. But maybe I need to learn how to be vulnerable, and humble enough to be vulnerable. Maybe I just need to learn to love more. Most of all I think I need to let God help me out more and stop thinking I can fix everything. I don't know, just my thoughts.
So my week was actually really good, anxiety and all included. It definitely gave me a different outlook and helped me teach everyone with a bit more charity in my heart. We conducted exchanges a few hours after everything went down and it was definitely neat to have had such a learning experience before I was asked to teach. I definitely feel better than I have in a long time. I think I've felt better the last 3 days than I have since I came to Australia. So I'm grateful that my mind finally had a freak out, it gave me time to actually breathe and refocus. All is well in Bathurst. I feel better than ever, and I'm ready to change. Isn't the atonement awesome?
Sister Danielle Laree Stott
Picture: My fabulously ridiculous district.