“It Wasn’t a Sacrifice,” Ensign, Mar. 2004, 52–53
When I was a young woman, my world was my family and friends. But when I found the gospel of Jesus Christ, much of this world was lost to me. Friends teased me because I lived the Word of Wisdom, honored the Sabbath, and tried to keep the commandments. Schoolmates cut off friendships with me. My parents at first refused to give me permission to be baptized, and my father even stopped speaking to me. For a young girl, such personal losses might be considered quite a sacrifice. But God knew that these “sacrifices” for His Church and kingdom would in reality bring not loss but gain.
The Lord taught: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:24–25). We are accustomed to defining our losses as sacrifice and our increases as gain. But often our losses are actually the beginning of what will later be a great harvest.
A famous doctor once visited a dejected and despondent old woman. He found that she was alone and separated from the world but that she also had a beautiful greenhouse where she raised African violets. The doctor gave the woman a prescription. She was to subscribe to her church’s newsletter, and whenever there was a baptism, marriage, sickness, or death, she was to send an African violet. Following the doctor’s instructions, the old woman gave away hundreds of potted plants. At her death the newspaper headline read, “The Queen of African Violets Passes Away and Is Mourned by Thousands.” What turned this dejected old woman into someone loved by so many? It was giving to others, not keeping for herself.
Sometimes what we must give up is not a possession but a cherished dream. Growing up in Taiwan, I had always dreamed of going to school in England. After receiving a university degree and studying in the United States, I returned home and made arrangements to continue my studies in England. At this same time I received a calling in the Relief Society. At first I planned to accept the calling for a short time—just until I left for England. Then after much consideration, I decided to postpone my studies abroad for a year.
It was during this year when I was “sacrificing” my studies in England that an amazing blessing came into my life. One day as I was walking by a bulletin board at church, I saw a notice that the Church’s Translation Department was seeking to hire a Chinese language supervisor. I felt the Holy Ghost prod me to apply, but I hesitated. The year was almost up, and it was time for me to go to England. But the Spirit encouraged me, and I applied and was hired. For me, working as a language supervisor for the Church is not just a job. It is a great privilege and blessing. But I could never have received this blessing if I had not been willing to give up my dream of studying in England.
Do we sometimes hold onto our one grain of wheat, not willing to impart it, so that in the end it remains just a single grain? Or do we trust that, planted and cultivated, this single grain can become fruit? Giving up friends, possessions, or dreams can certainly be a trial. But I have learned that, with faith in God’s plan for us, we can confidently plant our grain of wheat, trusting in the bountiful harvest to come.