I needed to feel God’s love, and he answered me in just the way I needed.
I glanced at my phone, then to the manuscript on my desk. Instead of answering, I picked up a red pen and continued my work. The call was from my brother, who left a voicemail wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Although I had spent several holidays abroad in past adventures, this first Thanksgiving in Canada pierced me.
My sister sent a selfie of her skiing with her kids at 11:00.
Mom and Dad called at 3:00.
A friend texted at 4:00.
By that time the sun had set, and I quit work an hour early in my freelance office (my spare room) and gladly commuted back to the dark bedroom. My loved ones meant well, but each message and call felt like a pinprick. Although my husband would walk through the back door soon, and some of his family were coming for dinner, I still felt so alone. We had moved to my husband’s homeland a few months prior because of a spiritual prompting my husband had received, but even though I was trying to embrace the change despite its difficulties, anger was building up in my heart. I had been praying for over a year to receive the same confirmation, but I still lacked a satisfactory response.
I was angry at God for his silence.
I remembered hearing once that God always answers prayers, but sometimes we’re not receptive enough to accept them.
So I was angry at myself too, just for good measure.
And that anger, coupled with my dark Thanksgiving homesickness, made me want to drive my rickety sedan till it died in the middle of nowhere. But, of course, I had the manuscript to attend to, and freezing to death didn’t seem the best way to go, so I stayed lying on the bed. As I stared at the ceiling, I asked God, not for understanding or strength or courage, but for the ability to recognize his love.
The next Monday morning, I finished my freelance project, leaving my afternoon free to do the chores I had neglected. Armed with a shopping list, I headed out to a nearby supermarket, which was conveniently quieter than usual. As I stood in front of the refrigerated wall at the back of the store, trying to decide between regular and low-fat cottage cheese, a young employee tapped my shoulder.
“Would you like some flowers?” she asked, holding six orange tulips. “They’re free.”
Startled, I accepted them and thanked her before she rushed away. As I continued on to the breakfast cereals, I remembered my prayer. Even though I still didn’t know why I had to move to Canada with my husband, I simply couldn’t accept this employee’s gesture as mere luck or coincidence; I had never seen her before, and she definitely didn’t know tulips remind me of the new, fresh light of spring.
I concluded that God led the employee to give me the tulips because he knew I loved them, because they would help me stop being angry, because they would show me his love.
When I came home, I placed the tulips in a vase on my kitchen table and kept them long after the petals had fallen.
—Elizabeth Smith, Mormon Insights contributor
FEATURE IMAGE BY WAI SIEW