Latter-day Saint Life

My sister drew our family as flowers, and it changed how I think about following Christ

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Maybe in the biggest moments of our lives, we see a clear path to the Savior. But the real battle is won in the daily challenges of life.
Courtesy of Irene Caso

Many years ago, during family home evening, one of my sisters surprised us with a drawing that she said represented our family. It was her way of expressing her love and the qualities she saw in each of us. I have always loved it. She chose to draw our family as a combination of flowers and plants. She carefully chose each one of these flowers and plants to match how she saw our personal attributes.

For example, framing the picture are my parents. My dad is the ivy because he is a quiet, hardworking man, someone who in a constant and steady way wraps around all of us and strengthens our home foundation. My mom is the reed, a strong plant that grows and nurtures itself by the living waters of a river. Like the reed that moves to follow the wind, my mom has always followed the Spirit, which has helped her guide our family. My oldest sister is a white rose because she is pure, innocent, and without guile. My brother is the blue flower and my other sister is the poppy, and the little specs all over the painting represent my deceased brother, Juan Carlitos, who surrounds us like pollen, which we can all feel without seeing.

I was surprised to find that my sister saw me as a sunflower. She expressed how she admired my cheerful spirit and how I always looked on the bright side of life—not that I am always cheerful and positive, but I do try!

Sunflowers are amazing plants. They need six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Young sunflowers face east in the morning to greet the sun and turn from east to west over the course of each day, following the sun’s light and brightness. Not only do they follow the light, but no matter how hard the winds are, they stand tall and continue looking at the sun!

Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “Like the young sunflower, when we follow the Savior of the world, the Son of God, we flourish and become glorious despite the many terrible circumstances that surround us. He truly is our light and life.”

If we create the habit in our lives of waking up every day, standing tall, and following the light like young sunflowers do, I guarantee that as we grow old and our testimonies mature, we will be like old sunflowers, which stop rotating. They stand firm and immovable, always looking east, constantly looking at the light.

Maybe in the biggest moments of our lives, we see a clear path to the Savior. But the real battle is won in the daily challenges of life. We have to decide each day to carry on, to keep going, to get out of bed despite all our unmet expectations, broken dreams, and the unrealized righteous desires of our heart. What do we do then? We offer our Heavenly Father the only gift we can offer Him: to stay faithful to Him, living the gospel the best we can.

We often ask ourselves, “Why am I not being blessed with this?” “When will I be blessed with that?” “Why are others blessed with it and not me?” “Why all this waiting?”

The miracle is to have all those questions wrapped up in the very core of your heart but to still get ready to go to church, fulfill your calling, pick up the phone to minister to another sister, kneel to pray at night, and make it through the day with your best smile only to start all over again the next day.

My friend Sarai, who is like a sister to me, is a living example of this type of courage and faith. Sarai’s mom, Mari Carmen, lost her husband, Luis, due to a tragic accident, leaving her with four young children who were three, six, nine, and twelve years old. Mari Carmen did an amazing job raising her children in the gospel of Jesus Christ despite the difficulties of being a widow. As Sarai was dating and looking for her future husband, she often told me she felt she could face any difficulty in life—but that she prayed she would never experience what her mom went through in being a widow. Sarai met a wonderful man named Sam, whom we all adored, and after under three years of marriage, he passed away from cancer at age thirty-five.

I could spend hours telling you about the beautiful ways Sarai has confronted this difficult loss and faced her worst fear while staying strong, with good cheer, serving others and serving the Lord. I don’t know why these tragedies happen, but I can tell you that I have seen my friend rise, face her trials, and hold on to the iron rod no matter what. She made that choice when Sam fought cancer, and to this day, holds to the iron rod.

▶ You may also like: Some storms cease, some increase. This mother’s story may help you find peace amid unmet family expectations

Being of good cheer requires a conscious effort. We might not have control over the events in our lives, but we can control our reactions. Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”

I’ve often felt the same. Besides, science confirms the many benefits of laughter: it stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

President Russell M. Nelson is also a great example to me of faith and optimism. He continues leading the Church through very difficult times, most recently through a pandemic that shocked the world and affected so many people. It robbed a lot of us of cheerfulness for a long time. As concern over COVID-19 continued and worship services were suspended worldwide, President Nelson posted a message of hope on his social channels, where he said in part, “These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him.”

What a calming and reassuring promise from the Lord’s prophet at a time when everything was so uncertain. I try to remember these words often. We are truly blessed to have a living prophet to remind us to be of good cheer even in the hardest times.

You Are Loved: Inspiring Messages for Women

We all have struggles. From feeling friendless and alone to grieving the death of a loved one, none of us have lives that look exactly how we might want them to. Even so, in our trials and difficulties, we can know that we are loved. Not only by the people closest to us—though their love is essential too—but most of all, by the Creator of the Universe, our Father in Heaven. This collection of addresses by women for women explores how we can recognize our divine worth and potential and come to see ourselves and others the way God does—with grace, optimism, and love.

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