Monday, September 6, 2010

The Tree of Life

1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11

I've always loved Lehi's vision of the tree of life.  As a parent, I've felt his feelings of wanting my children to experience the joy I know through the gospel.  I've always thought of the fruit of the tree in big picture terms, as The Gospel, or The Love of God, or Eternal Life.  This time, while reading, the smaller, individual things that I love about the gospel came to mind.

I've often thought of the fruit of the tree of life as a pear.  I don't know why, but I guess because pears are white inside, and I think they're delicious.  Now, I'm thinking of it more like a cluster of grapes, and each tiny morsel contributes cumulatively to the joy of the whole.

There's a reason I wanted my daughter to go to BYU.  It's because I had so much fun there.  I enjoyed wholesome, fun relationships, and wholesome, fun activities.  I learned critical thinking.  I developed a thirst for knowledge.  I learned to think for myself.  I strengthened my testimony there.  I want my own kids to experience these things for themselves.

I really want my children, all of my children, to serve a mission like I did.  My capacity to love expanded beyond measure.  My understanding of the gospel grew.  I learned to love unconditionally.  I learned to love different personalities.  I learned problem solving skills.  I learned time management and organizational skills.  I learned how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  I learned how much I love Him.  I learned how to serve and how to work.  It made me so happy, and the preparation it gave me has made me so much happier in my marriage and as a mother.  I want my own kids to experience these things.

I think about individual principles of the gospel.  Like when I was a lonely, confused, hurt 15-year old, feeling like nobody loved me.  I knelt to pray and asked, "Heavenly Father, do you love me?"  And an immediate, overwhelming feeling of warmth, physical like a hug, rushed through my body.  I never doubted again.  I want my own kids to experience that feeling.

Or when I was an older teen, and I went through the repentance process, and it hurt like hell, but when I came out of it, I realized that not only had my burdens been lifted, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I was healed.  Not just healed from the pain of my sins, but healed from the pain and loneliness and self-loathing that drove me to sin in the first place.  And I found a friend who would always be with me to heal me from pain and loneliness and self-doubt.  I want my own kids to experience that healing.

I want them to feel good about their bodies when they obey the word of wisdom, and exercise, and eat properly, and feel physical and spiritual strength.  I want them to have their minds set at ease because they've learned to pay tithing and have learned that no matter how it adds up on paper, the Lord will provide.  I want them to feel good when they serve.  I want my own kids to experience these things.

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