I don’t usually use this blog to discuss spiritual matters, I mostly use it to describe the daily happenings of our little family. Lately I feel the need to write down my spiritual experiences, so here we go …
This year our Relief Society is doing something cool. They give us a scripture on Christ to ponder each week and right around Easter we finish our study and talk about how our testimonies have grown. I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to study the scriptures, specifically on Christ and write about my experience.
This week the scripture to study was Helaman 5:12:
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
This is so pertinent to me recently. I’ve been wondering since Christmas what I can do to help my boys be more grateful and loving.
Christmas day was kind of a let down for Daniel and me. Every Christmas morning kind of is for us. Our boys are notorious for having terrible or no reactions. I blame Daniel. But this Christmas we really thought they’d be excited and happy about the gifts they got … but they weren’t. They would open a gift, stare at it and then say something like, “awwww, I really didn’t want THIS lego set. I wanted a different one” or “OK, so it’s clothes huh?” or …. no response at all. They’d open it, give no response at all and scoot it over off their laps. It was crushing to watch. The amount of money that was wasted on them this year (and every year) was significant. I couldn’t help but feel upset the whole rest of the day. Daniel and I talked about it for weeks afterwards and the first fast Sunday of the year I prayed and fasted asking what I could do to teach my boys to be grateful and kind.
I’ve been worried that it’s a personality trait or something I didn’t have control over. Then I worried that it was a fault of mine; that it’s something I should’ve been teaching them all along. How do you teach someone to be grateful? I thought about taking everything away from them, and I’ve done that in the past – taken away all of the their Legos and it seems to work in the short term, but it doesn’t seem to make a lasting impression on them. But that’s just the gratitude portion, I worry about them just being kind – to one another and to others.
After fasting I felt impressed to follow the teachings of a talk I heard in conference last year. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember it because I wrote it out on a chalkboard in our house. I wrote this:
“These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives and add protection to our homes. Prayer. Your heart will feel buoyant peace. Tell him everything. Study the word of God. Through daily and consistent scripture study you will find peace in the turmoil around you and strength. Family Home Evening. As we come unto Him we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge. Go to the temple”.
I obviously took parts of the talk and put them a little out of order to fit them on my chalkboard, but they all spoke to me.
I decided that this new year I would try to implement these practices more consistently into our lives and that it would help my boys learn to be grateful and kind. I’m not sure exactly how, because it doesn’t seem to hit the problem head on with a direct lesson YET as I read the scripture for this past week, Helaman 5:12, I nearly wept reading the first line, “And now, my sons, remember”. Here I have 3 sons, looking for answers about how to teach them and Helaman begins in this verse by directly addressing his sons, “remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation”. If I can teach my boys the Gospel of Christ then, “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you”. I want that for my boys.
I read all of chapter 5. So powerful for me. I felt the Spirit speak to my heart as I read. I didn’t have to try, the words were shown to directly apply to my life and situation right now. At the beginning of the chapter it tells how the people had gotten so wicked that Nephi gave up the judgement seat and left on a mission, to preach the gospel the rest of his days with his brother Lehi. I couldn’t help but feel like my boys have gotten so bad that I feel impelled to dedicate my life to teaching them the gospel. Nephi and Lehi then reminisce of the words their father, Helaman, had spoken to them and that’s where we get verse 12 (and several others) where Helaman pleaded with his sons to keep the commandments and remember to repent and rely on Christ. As I read Helaman’s words, I thought how I wanted the same for my sons. Helaman was a daddy. It sounded like a daddy. At one point he tells them to remember why he named them Nephi and Lehi – it was after their ancestors and they were good and he wanted them to be good. I want my sons to be good.
Then Nephi and Lehi go on a mission. It’s wildly successful with the Nephite cities, then they go to the Lamanites and convert hundreds there too. In one Lamanite city they are disliked and get taken and thrown in prison. There is a beautiful description of a spiritual experience that happens in that prison. The part I latched on to was how they described the spirit – “…they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not … and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory”. I have felt this and it was brought to my mind as I read this. I have felt as though I were encircled about with fire, it was during my patriarchal blessing. As Patriarch Hawkes had his hands on my head and as he spoke I distinctly felt as though I were sitting in a pillar of fire. I remember feeling it so tangibly that I peeked opened my eyes, thinking I might actually see something. I also remembered that joy that was described. I have felt it on several occasions – on my baptism day, my wedding day and several times in the temple. On my wedding day, I remember being so full of joy that I couldn’t stop smiling, huge, and I was shaking the bench I sat on because I was bouncing my legs. Just sheer joy.
The very last thing that jumped out at me in this chapter was the voice that spoke to the people in the prison. That voice was the voice of God and it said, “Peace, peace be unto you because of your faith”. I have so many concerns and I am emotionally distraught a lot. I feel like, in the end, all I desire is peace. I just want to feel at peace. I yearn for this and plead in my daily prayers for this.
I’m so grateful for this spiritual experience. I’ve noticed that anytime I am obedient, I am rewarded with another spiritual experience. It’s these personal experiences that fuel me until the next experience. I need this constant feeding of my spirit and I find that I hunger after it. I have started feeling that desire, that hungering and thirsting that the scriptures talk about and these experiences are like sustenance to me. I am renewed to teach my sons the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I am confident that it will change their behavior. At the very least, if they build upon the rock of Christ then, “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”