Here are some spiritual thoughts I’ve had lately...I’ve been pondering free agency, and how to help our children have a desire to choose the right and serve the Lord.
I came up with this idea: I remembered what it was like to tour some of the underground caves that we’ve visited as a family. There were so many interesting things to see, and it was exciting to be somewhere we hadn’t been before. It was cool to see what it would be like in total darkness. It was fun to hear stories from the guides and our fellow tourists about the cave. You can learn a lot about light in the darkness.
It was a lot easier to go down the stairs into the cave than it was to climb out. As we came out, it was almost painful to adjust our eyes to the light, as they’d gotten used to the darkness. But we had to return to real life, as the cave is only one little aspect of the world around us, and is not a good place to stay.
I then wondered what would happen if one of us decided to spend most or all of their time inside the cave. What physical, emotional, and spiritual conditions would result? What if we were there long enough, with only tourists and a limited food, sound and visionary experience? How would we change? Where would the meaning in our lives come from? Could we eventually forget about the rest of the world, and the tones, textures, experiences, variety and experiences available outside the cave? The longer we stayed in the cave, the more difficult it would be to climb out, and the harder it would be to adjust to life outside the cave.
But it would be worthwhile to climb out, no matter how difficult, and how long it had been!
Then I thought about Laman and Lemuel, vs. Alma the Younger and his friends in the Book of Mormon. They all had very righteous parents and families. They had many opportunities to hear the gospel, to experience the love of the Lord in their lives, and they all witnessed miracles and angels and blessings. What made Laman and Lemuel decide to reject everything and metaphorically stay in a dark cave, while Alma and his friends embraced the truth and freedom and then devoted their lives to helping others become free from darkness?
I think that it was agency and their desires.
I think that when the scriptures say “Seek and ye shall find” they aren’t just talking about righteousness. Agency enables us to have the desires of our hearts. And we are the only ones who can ultimately choose what we desire.
It is such a blessing to know that Heavenly Father gives us every opportunity that He can to help us to choose happiness, freedom and bounty. The gospel of Jesus Christ can help us to expand our capacities and experiences, in contrast to the cave, which limits us the deeper we crawl into it.
The atonement allows us to turn and become new. As parents, we can call down the powers of Heaven to help a child, but that child still needs to chose.
As parents, we can and should physically remove a child from the cave, and even prevent them from being in it for a time as they continue to grow and progress.
We can show them all of the amazing things that the rest of the world has to offer. We can teach and exhort and fast and pray and love and do inspired things in behalf of the child, but if that child desires the cave above all else despite our best efforts, eventually there will be nothing we can do to prevent him or her from it.
I wish I could pass along desire. It would make it so much easier to keep my beloved children safe.