A SEASON FOR CLOVERS
By: Carolyn E. Hopkins
Life has not been easy for me. I have been a single mother since the day my son was born twenty-one years ago (As of 2006). There have been numerous times that I have wanted to give up and walk away from the despondency and depression that have often accompanied my struggle to continue fighting life in the face of insurmountable odds. But something within my spirit - that deep yearning - clinging to life - has always brought me back to the center of my reality. Therefore, I had to continue to be strong, the warrior woman, as I was often referred to; the one who everyone knew would make it through; but, this time was different.
My soul was tired. I had nothing to which to cling, not even my most precious God, I felt, was hearing my prayers for relief, for peace. I was ready to give up and throw in the towel. Life had become too much for me to bear and I just didn't want to go on.
At thirty-eight, I had decided to go back to college to earn my bachelor's degree, even with the responsibility of a severely-disabled son. I managed, however, to do it with the help of financial aid and public programs for single mothers. I was living in California at the time and given the unconditional financial and emotional support I needed. I was and still am eternally grateful for the many professors and friends who stuck by me and were there to offer strength and hope through their inspiring words. Life wasn't too bad then, for my son was doing okay although he never liked school and continuously challenged me against not going. I nevertheless fought back and demanded that he go and get all the help that he could through the services offered him for the emotionally disturbed. After a while, however, at the age of thirteen, he took a detrimental turn for the worse, and joined a local street gang, started smoking marijuana, and gave up on anything to do with school and learning. In addition, I was still pursuing the dream of finishing my last year of college at California State University, Northridge.
While living in southern California, my son, mother, and I lived in a small, swanky apartment where poverty and despair were rampant, but I was determined not to let that rob me of my dream of bettering myself through education. I was also hoping that my determination and perseverance would inspire my son. But nothing worked in lifting him out of the miry clay. With an absent father and no healthy role models in his life, he soon began his coming of age on the streets. Yet, I still tenaciously hung onto my dream of finishing college while holding on to my son's life.
Back then, somehow, I had the enthusiasm, the drive, and the energy to fight the good fight of faith, but after a while of stretching myself in too many directions, I became tired. I was losing my grip on faith and losing my dream of a college education. Yet, the Lord would not give up on me. Each time, He would bring me back to the fighting ring and give me a few more punching jabs at life.
In 1998, I graduated from college with a degree in English. Finally, I had realized my dream in spite of the obstacles and satanic attacks planted along the way of my journey. I was victorious. Quickly after receiving my degree, my mother and I had decided to move my son to her original hometown, Hampton, Virginia. She felt it better to raise him there where it would be less peer pressure and maybe, an opportunity for him to grow and have a new beginning. However, to our dismay, things got worse.
My mother had rented us an apartment, sight unseen, which meant we had not actually seen the place, but we had high hopes that it would be better than what we had experienced in California. After having arrived in Virginia, we were dismayed by what we saw; drug dealers, lost teenagers, wild women, and horrible living conditions. To make matters worse, we had nowhere else to stay, so, we made a pact to stay there temporarily and then to get out as soon as possible.
While my son was living in Virginia, he quickly got caught up once again with the wrong crowd because it was impossible not to. The demons were in his face, waiting with the grin of the devil, and anxious to claim his soul once more. At this point, I had become totally discouraged. I knew I needed a sign from God that somehow things were going to be alright, that things were going to get better. Desperately, I needed a sign.
While out riding one day, my son and I stopped at a local park. There wasn't anything special about it nor was there any spectacular natural beauty upon which to gaze. I just felt compelled to sit there in my car and think, to try to hear God's voice. The day was bright, clear and breezy, giving me a feeling of some relief and peace. Although the park was scatted with beer bottles and trash, I decided to wander through it. Then, deep within, I felt a sense that this park had an unspoken treasure planted within its grassy fields. I looked up to God and worshipped to the magnificent blue sky, and asked Him to please send me a sign that He was still in charge of my and my son's life and circumstances.
Suddenly, I noticed there was a wealth of clovers, clinging and entwined with one another. So, I asked God, not with much faith, that if things were going to get better in our lives, then to send me a four-leaf clover as a sign of His promise. I knew that I was testing God, as well as testing my faith, but I had to have something to believe in. So, I ran my fingers through the plethora of clovers that were slightly waving in the breeze; some were huge and lively, while others were small, sprouting and aspiring to grow tall. As I began seeking, I was astonished to find not one, but five four-leaf clovers. I was ecstatic! I thanked God for what I believed was a direct sign from Him. I knew then that He was a living God ready to answer our call. I quickly carried the clovers home, and had them laminated as proof of His promises.
Needless to say, my going to that park became an obsession. I needed reassurance, once again, that finding the four-leaf clovers were not a mere coincidence, but a real sign that God was truly speaking to me through his wonderful rare clovers. Oh, child of little faith!
Each day that I went, I would not only find four-leaf clovers, but I found five, six and seven-leaf clovers! Some were big, some were small, but each was precious and sacred to me. Once again, I laminated and dated each one so I would have dated proof that God was speaking directly to me about my future and my son's life. That park, although possessing no breath-taking natural beauty, became a place of worship and promise to me.
Each clover was precious and special because I absolutely knew that that God Himself was speaking personally to me. My finding a wealth of clovers lasted exactly three spring seasons, but even today, when I go to that park and need a sign of God's faithfulness, He sends one four-leaf clover. Over the years of finding clovers, I now have a collection of at least 150 of them.
I am convinced that they are a physical and natural manifestation of His authority in my life and believe that He will speak to His followers through nature if we take the time to find His voice among His many environmental wonders.
Many things that I prayed for have come to pass over the years. I have a job teaching English, I am on way of realizing my dreams of becoming a writer and businesswoman, and I even have a master's degree; I live in a nice apartment and drive a new car and although my son is still struggling, he is gradually getting better; he no longer hangs out with the wrong crowd, but prays to God for direction and strength to fight his disabilities. He has also been diagnosed accurately and given medication that stabilizes his personality and outlook on life. I have come to realize and accept that God may not always do things our way, but nevertheless, He keeps His promises in ways that are far better than we could ever imagine.
When there are desperate situations in my life and I become discouraged, God still sends me a four-leaf clover as a covenant between the two of us that nothing is impossible with Him and that He is still in control, and for that I feel extremely blessed and chosen.
He promised that He would never fail me nor forsake me (See: Hebrews 13:5-6), and I can't say He ever has. What a wonderful God we serve!
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