The Lesson of the Poinsettia

Christmas 2018 I received a poinsettia as a gift.  It was part of my Christmas Secret Elf gift giving I was the recipient of.  You can read about that experience here.  One of the first gifts I received was a beautiful poinsettia in full bloom.  It was delivered while I was at work so my co-workers suggested I keep it there to help give our office space some beauty.  Easily persuaded I obliged.  It was fine until Friday.  I gave the plant a large dose of water to see it through the weekend and left. When I returned Monday morning it looked like someone had swapped out my beautiful, full-bloomed plant for a Charlie Brown Christmas tree variety.  It looked like a massacre had taken place with red dry leaves lying on my desk and the stems bare.

My co-workers let me know that I shouldn’t have left it over the weekend like that.  Funny, they were all there when I left on Friday and no one imparted that wisdom then.  Come Monday morning though they were full of good advice.

I declared my mantra, “This is why I shouldn’t be responsible for plants, pets, or kids” and took my dying plant home.  My intent was to quietly throw it away since it appeared to be goner.

Dad looked at it and said, “Let me work with it a bit.”  Since mom passed away eight years ago dad has discovered a couple of dormant talents.  One is cooking and the other is his thumb is actually, or can be if he tried, green.

So, dad took the plant and started nourishing it.  Sure enough, the plant was only “mostly dead” (Princess Bride nod).  The plant that I was willing to give up on was still alive and still had some bloom left in it. His efforts extended its life through May.

Here’s what I learned from dad’s poinsettia.   Sometimes we accept things “as they are” a little too soon.  We call our circumstances or events a little early and then label a “it worked out the way it was supposed to” on it.  Is that really how things were supposed to work out or did we settle and try to convince ourselves that was the best possible outcome?

I often think of Nephi and his brothers trying to get the brass plates.  It took them three tries and serious opposition and obstacles to overcome before they obtained their goal.  It would have changed the experience dramatically (and probably would have made the Book of Mormon much shorter) if they had given up after the first attempt and went back to Lehi empty handed.  “It all works out for the best,” they would have reasoned.  And we would have missed out on reading Another Testament of Christ.

Another example I think of is an old Clint Black song.  “So we tell ourselves that what we found is what we meant to find” the country crooner sings.  When I’m about to give up on reaching a goal I think of that phrase.  Am I giving up too soon or should I keep trying?

I guess that’s one of the lessons of life.  Learning when to hang on and keep trying and when to move on.  Either way, one could argue, “it all works out for the best” because there is usually no way to prove otherwise.

 

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