When You Feel Like Giving Up

Over a year ago, a friend gave my wife a Christmas cactus. It sat on our kitchen counter for many months. Though my wife has taken good care of it since then, it never bloomed. There were no blossoms. It was just a verdant blob.

Then two months ago, on Christmas Eve, she was cleaning up in the kitchen, trying to make space on the counter. She decided to throw the Christmas cactus away because it had not produced a single bloom in twelve months. She pushed it across the counter top towards the garbage can.

Just as she was about to throw the plant away, she noticed something. It had an extraordinary blossom on it like the one pictured here. The bloom stopped her in her tracks. She did not throw the plant away and it now has a special place in our living room.

When you are just about to give up and throw in the towel, have you noticed that that is the time when something wonderful can happen. When you have been watching and caring for something patiently, sometimes that is when something amazing happens—like a flower blooming in winter—if we don’t give up too soon and throw our dream out.

At last count, the Christmas cactus has nine more buds ready to bloom. We’re keeping it.

As I wrote this, I thought of a verse from the 32nd chapter of Alma:

But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. (Verse 41.)

If there is something you want, something you long for, and it is a good thing, like a loved one returning to worthiness and faithfulness or overcoming a bad habit or outlasting a trial, it takes patience to reap the reward, it takes the kind of faith that holds on under all circumstances with a smile on its face.

There were times that I thought all was lost, when things look bleak and hopeless, and then I turned around and saw a bloom in an unexpected place. I think the Lord likes to surprise us with unexpected blessings—especially when we strive to keep a good attitude, in spite of difficulties, setbacks, sorrow, suffering, deprivation or pain.

Then there are the other stories. You’ve seen them and heard them and lived them. Stories of giving up too early, then finding out that someone, maybe it was you, gave up just before the flower bloomed.

There is that dark underside. Sometimes people desire something unworthy over a long period and they get that, too. But such fruit, such a vision, always yields a bitter taste, though we may for a time claim otherwise. The Lord will grant our wishes eventually, whether those wishes are good or ill. It’s part of agency. Our job is to make sure our wishes, desires and longings are looking through the right lens.

Worry is like that, too. It is like a longing, a prayer for what you don’t want. And, as I heard Dr. Phil say once, “We create what we fear.” Our thoughts can create what we don’t want. Worry is a hungry wolf, trying to get inside the house of your dreams. Worry always shows us where our faith is absent and where we need to get to work. On the positive side, you can think of worry as a placeholder for your faith.

So whoever you are, wherever you are, if you are hanging on for something good to happen, keep hanging on. It will be worth it. If it is a pure desire, though the season be long, it will yield delicious fruit. It may take years. It may take a lifetime. But if it is a worthy desire, curbed by unselfishness, it will come to your doorstep at an unexpected hour. “Then…ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:43.)

5 thoughts on “When You Feel Like Giving Up

  1. Anonymous February 25, 2011 / 3:42 pm

    Thank you – more than you know. Your blog is a friend in the dark sometimes.


  2. the horsemans wife February 25, 2011 / 3:49 pm

    Thank you. The first time you shared the comment from Dr. Phil with me I thought about it for months. And now I am sure I needed to hear it again. I appreciate the reminder.


  3. weatheringthejourney February 25, 2011 / 4:56 pm

    I love this post. I'm currently acting on some new dreams and it's been very challenging and sometimes I have doubts about it. Still, I feel as though this is what the Lord wants for me right now and it was nice to read your words of encouragement reminding me that the hard stuff will make the rewards all the more appreciated.


  4. dhoward February 25, 2011 / 8:01 pm

    First time ever commenting on any blog. I spent the last year diligently working through an anxiety disorder that has been with me all my life. Diligent work, prayer and faith got me through it and finally over it. I could not have done it without my family, good friends, the gospel of Jesus Christ and being diligently patient. All I can say is AMEN!


  5. Andrew March 7, 2011 / 11:13 pm

    “I think the Lord likes to surprise us with unexpected blessing.” I agree and am so glad that He does. I am somewhat new to the LDS blogosphere but I want to say “thanks” for this post.


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