When it comes to taking care of his yard, my dad has spent countless hours pruning, weeding, and mowing since the day I was born. He will pay any physical price if it means that his front yard will benefit from his work. Within the yard there are lilacs, rose bushes, freshly cut grass, and countless amounts of plants I do not know the name of. Despite all of the endearing vegetation that creates a beautiful haven out of my yard, there is one tree that my dad has despised since he planted it 19 years ago. No one truly knows the story of why he decided to plant said tree, but it still stands just as stubborn as it was the day he placed it within the soil.
The tree is a crab apple tree. Crab apple trees are usually planted for the purpose of ornamentation in a yard. They exist to simply fill in blanks and their tiny clusters of berries they produce are virtually inedible and useless.
Throughout the course of its life, this crab apple tree has been smitten by storms, complained to by my father because of its untamed roots, and ridiculed by my family due to its berries constantly falling off creating a disaster of red impurities upon the perpetually, clean grass beneath. There have been times when my family has wished for the wind to be strong enough to snap the trunk of the tree so we could remove it from our life forever.
Last autumn, my mom finally had enough of this tree making a mess of her yard, and my dad was happy to oblige to her request to remove it. He was all set to dig it up within the week until they went to church on Sunday. Countless amounts of neighbors and ward members commented to my family on how beautiful the tree was at that time of year. Another person commented on the beautiful blossoms that grow during the spring. All these neighbors, ever so casually, talked about how every time they took a stroll past my yard or drove by in their vehicles, they would gaze at the crab apple tree and marvel at its beauty.
My family was dumbstruck.
How could this troublesome tree be anything but a nuisance? These neighbors and friends may have seen the beauty of the leaves, but all my family and I could comprehend were the falling berries and ricocheting roots that were slowly taking over the entire lawn.
That is when we decided to take a closer look at the beauty that we could not see.
The leaves had flourished in a rich, burgundy that fall, followed by holiday-red berries that clung diligently to the snow covered branches during winter. When spring began, tiny, yet abundant pink blossoms thrived throughout the season. This summer, the leaves are a vibrant and healthy green that are pleasing to the eye.
Throughout all the years there was so much contention directed at the tree, we failed to see just how beautiful and full of life it was. There was beauty within its branches during every season of the year, despite the difficulties it may have caused us. My family was blinded for so many years by the problems it created and disregarded the immense health, strength, and beauty it possessed.
What I have learned from this little tree is that despite the tribulations we face in each season, instead of focusing on the worst aspects that befall us, there is a way to find beauty within those trials. Most often, the good aspects outnumber the bad. The tender mercies of a blossom or vigorous, red leaves are much more meaningful and precious than a few berries that litter the ground.
The tree itself has overcome its own share of trials throughout the years as well. For being so small, its roots dig deeper each year and its trunk withstands even the strongest of storms. It is truly an unshakable tree that continues to find the will to live and keep going. We can ALL learn that despite the ever-changing and soul-shattering circumstances that often befall us in these latter-days, there is always a blossom that follows the winter. There is ALWAYS a reason to keep fighting for the righteous life you wish to live.
Since this realization, I have found a new love for the little crab apple tree in the corner of my front yard. Its berries still fall, and its roots continue to shift, but the goodness and beauty it possesses is much stronger than the petty troubles it can cause. I have learned to be gracious in my times of trial, and feel the comfort and love from the Savior during the times that deeply trouble my soul. As the tree continues to grow stronger in its trials, I continue to draw strength from my own as well.
Trials do not exist to bestow anguish and fear upon our hearts, they often appear to bring us closer to God, and though they may be difficult, there is true beauty within their purpose to lift our spirits higher in testimony of the Gospel. I am forever grateful for the trials that continue to drive my spiritual roots deeper into the ground, that I may one day be unshaken by the storms of the earth.
But, I am especially grateful for my humble little tree that opened my eyes to the new found beauty that surrounds us all.
Chakell Wardleigh is a senior at Weber State University and will graduate with a degree in English Literature and Professional Writing this coming spring. Most of her vocabulary consists of movie quotes and Harry Potter references. In her free time she enjoys eating chocolate licorice, buying way too many books, and laughing at her own jokes.