The story of my tattoo is fairly simple. Rose bushes do not just magically grow perfectly. The dead parts of the bush must be cut away by the gardener as to not mess up the beauty of the rose bush later on. In this scenario, we are the rose bushes and God is the gardener. While sometimes we may beg our gardener not to cut us down for fear of losing our current progress, the gardener knows better. He knows what he wants us to become. He knows he must cut us down in order for us to grow. Even though at times I may be left in pain by the pruning shears, which is how I felt when I got this tattoo, these roses remind me to thank my gardener everyday. For cutting me down. For loving me enough to hurt me and make me stronger.
My mom recently told me the story of the infected toe. A father was going through a very hard time in his life, he had been praying to God for a relief of his suffering and he felt like he hadn't been getting answers. He took his kids to the beach on vacation and the first day he was here, his son cut his toe. After four days at the beach, the cut didn't heal properly and became infected. The father eventually had to go to take his son to the doctor. Through great wisdom the little boy's father told him, "It has to hurt before it gets better." As he told his son these powerful words, he felt God tell him the same thing. It has to hurt before it can get better.
All I can say is, boy does it hurt right now. But as Elder Dallin H Oaks said in conference today, "Our mortal life was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant... Opposition permits us to grow towards what our Heavenly Father would have us become."
The experiences I've had over the past few months have been painful and unpleasant. Often I have felt as though I was losing progress, back tracking, and being cut down but I know I've experienced these things for a reason. I know that it has to hurt before it gets better. I may feel small for a short amount of time but when I am as big, full, and beautiful as a rose bush who has experienced similar pruning shears, I will be thankful for the pain I had before the relief. I will thank my master for the trials I faced that made me who I am.
I echo what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said today.
All things work together for those who love God.
So keep loving.
Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.