Parable of the Plastic Grapes: Growing Empathy


This parable is about me, a bride in 2020, and some plastic grapes. I was stressed out. And by stressed I mean a month before I got married, all the temples closed, my family was unable to travel (including my parents), and we were restricted to 10 people. Needless to say, everything felt like it was going wrong.

The Story

Top arch arrangement for a wedding suite by San Diego florist Paper in Blume. Find her on instagram @paperinblume
Picture by Rob Sarmiento on Unsplash.

Our wedding was eventually whittled down to witnesses, our photographer, the bishop, and the two of us. We got married in the back of a church parking lot because we couldn’t find a place to get married. Even though all of this seemed awful, I still wanted the day to feel special.

A few people asked how they could help and one person specifically offered to give us flowers for our arch. Originally it was going to be empty so I took them up on that offer because it was a nice gesture. They asked me what kind of flowers I wanted and I figured that I should keep it simple so I asked for faux white roses.

The flowers arrived at 11 pm the night before our wedding and instead of faux white roses, there were fake lilies, fuzzy daisies, and plastic grapes. I didn’t realize how sensitive I was at that moment but I just started crying. My then soon to be husband came over and was so confused about why I was crying.

There I was, on the ground, trying to attach these giant flowers to our arch and they kept falling over. I was trying so hard to accomplish this task and it wasn’t working. (To the person who made me these flowers: please know that it wasn’t you, I was just in a very fragile place. I think they looked great in the end.)

I just turned to him and said, “I know I should be grateful for anything that we get, but why did it have to be fake plastic grapes?” He gave me a hug, calmed me down, and told me I should try to get some rest. We were getting married in the morning after all.

Related Link: Picking Away at the Church: The Parable of the Ants

Is This Really About Plastic Grapes?

Cuando quieras ponerte triste,sonrie,aunque sea con lágrimas en los ojos.
Picture by Luis Galvez on Unsplash.

Were these tears really about plastic grapes? No. Obviously, that is a really menial thing to cry about. The real reason why I was upset was that I felt alone. No one in my family came to my wedding and I wasn’t able to be sealed in the temple through no fault of my own. But I was taking out all of my anger and sadness on these plastic grapes.

Sometimes things in life just aren’t going well and a really meaningless thing pushes you over the edge. At that moment I sat on the ground crying about plastic grapes, but I used them anyway and they didn’t look that bad. Now when I think about it, I still cringe a little, but I also laugh.

Related Link: What We’re All Forgetting About the Wheat and Tares Parable

Lesson 1

The first lesson is this: Everyone has their plastic grapes. That small thing that just pushes you over the edge when everything else feels so hard. It might look like you are just upset about a small thing but in reality, your feelings are about substantial events.

I think we should all be a little bit more like my husband was with me that night. Patient and kind. When we see someone at the grocery store, upset that they weren’t able to get a specific product, have more empathy. That person may have had other hard things building up behind the scenes. That bag of pretzels might have just been the small thing that pushed them.

Empathy, patience, and a listening ear are exactly what I needed at that moment. If we were only more patient with those around us, then we could make the world a kinder and more bearable place to live.

Lesson 2

The second lesson I learned is that sometimes you just have to be grateful for what you are given. Even if it looks nothing like what you wanted or expected. These stupid plastic grapes helped me to realize how important it is to let go and realize that I am not the one in control.

In the end, the most important things still happened. Somehow these plastic grapes provided me with perspective. God is the one in control. As someone who likes to be in control, that has been hard for me to accept.

Overall, it’s okay to cry about your plastic grapes. Just remember that you are not the only one that needs to cry for a minute. Let us all try to be more empathetic when we find someone getting upset over something that seems small.

How have you shared love and empathy recently? Share in the comments.

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.