First, I want to elaborate briefly on the match game I showed you in my article last month.
In our November family match game I included baby pictures of all those who played the game, which turned out to be many grandchildren. I was surprised how much the older children enjoyed this game. They loved seeing themselves as very young children or babies and oohed and awed over each other’s images. They wanted to play it again and again. I did include pictures of the temple, but next time in addition to pictures of the grandchildren, I want to include pictures of their parents as young children, the parents’ weddings, or the parents doing something crazy at one of our family gatherings (like the year we did sumo wrestling!). I’d like to put in a few pictures of Grandma and Grandpa as youngsters also.
This activity was not just fun, it taught family relationships and seemed to unify the children as they played. It was an activity that fed the good within each of us.
You have probably heard the Cherokee legend about two wolves. An elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, undue competition, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.” (A Native American Cherokee Legend reportedly by Paul Keeps Horse.)
With the gatherings and activities we share with our grandchildren we have the opportunity to feed and reinforce the good—joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, empathy, truth, faith, etc. As we put our minds to it, we feed ourselves at the same time. And with every bit of good we feed to them and to us there is less space in our hearts for the bad.
Our granddaughter serving a mission in Taiwan gave me permission to share a piece of her email. Let me set the stage for you. The characters are:
- Lonnie, her step-dad
- Steph, her step-sister
- Clayton, her brother
- Bryson, her little brother
“A couple years ago our family decided to go on a cruise. We were planning to go in February, but my parents scheduled it pretty far in advance, I think like four to six months in advance so that we could get school and work off and be able to make it no problem. I remember one family home evening we were all sitting there like usual and then it got to the time for Lonnie to tell us ‘something.’ I remember he told us we were going on a cruise and I was so beyond excited! It was my first cruise and I’d always wanted to go and it sounded like a dream!
“Steph, Clayton, and I squealed with joy! Bryson, however, didn’t know what a cruise was. He had been on a cruise before, but he was two years old and he remembered very little about it. So we all told him what it was like and we all ended up at Mom’s office desk looking at the pictures of the boat and places we were going to go. After that we all came back into the family room to have a family prayer. We all walked from the office to the family room but Bryson said, ‘Wait one sec. I need to grab something.’
“We all sat in the family room as we heard him clanking around in his room, and after a couple times of us saying, ‘Bryce come on, we want to pray!’ he finally came back out with his suitcase he had pulled out of his closet already packed with the essentials he would need to go on the cruise months in the future. He had his swimsuit, and some toys he loved, and candy that he had just gotten a couple days earlier that he was so excited to eat, and a couple more really precious things to him all ready to go.
“We told him that the cruise was a really long time away so he didn’t need to pack these things right now, but he insisted that he wanted to be prepared for when we did go. We tried to convince him that he didn’t need to keep that stuff in there, but I remember him standing so strong on his decision that he wanted to keep the things in there for the cruise. We kind of laughed it off and said okay and went about our lives again.
“But it didn’t stop there. From that time until we left for the cruise if Bryson ever got a new toy or candy or thought of anything else he would want for the cruise, he would run to his room and pack it away in his bag. We kept telling him over and over that he didn’t need to do that and that when it got closer we would help him pack, but he always insisted that he needed to be ready when the time came.
“When I remembered this experience, I was studying about preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ. I wanted to know how I could better prepare, and how I could help others prepare, and honestly nothing was coming to mind but this story. I was drawing a blank. But then I realized this was my answer! We all literally just need to pack our bags for the cruise.
“We have no idea when the Lord is coming; we have no idea when we are going to die; we have no idea what the Lord’s timing is. So we need to start packing now! No matter if our family tells us that we can pack later. No matter if our friends think we are weird. No matter what anyone else around us thinks, we need to start packing our bags. We need to start developing personal relationships with Jesus Christ and following the commandments and applying His atonement to our lives.
“I know I personally am stinking excited to see God again. I want to see my Heavenly Father one day and be able to hug Him and let Him know that I did all I could to make it back to Him. So I’m going to start preparing now! I’m going to continue on in faith through whatever challenge the Lord throws at me. I am going to trust that He knows better than me and that His plan for me is the way I will find true happiness. I’m going to start packing my bag now and keep packing it for the rest of my time here on earth.”
To put in other words what my granddaughter said, we must fill our suitcases with the good . . . right now and continually.
I currently lead the singing in sacrament meeting. Last Sunday as I went on the stand to put the hymn numbers up, I glanced over at the pulpit where there was a box of tissues. The thought came clearly and distinctly in mind that I should go pick one up. I thought, I don’t need a tissue. I’m not emotional today. I don’t feel depressed or upset about anything.
After the sacrament hymn and while the sacrament was being passed, I sat thinking about the words of the hymn, the scriptures I read that morning, and how grateful I was for the great sacrifice of the Savior that made it possible for me to have the hope and promise of seeing my father again. Dad passed away last April. Anyway, well, you guessed it. I became rather emotional.
As I sat there wiping my nose with my fingers (yeah, I know, not very lady like), the thought came clearly in my mind, Now if you had only picked up a tissue . . . Right there, runny nose and all, I knew without a doubt that Heavenly Father was fully aware of me and the details of my thoughts and my life. And I wanted to share that knowledge with my grandchildren. I wanted to feed the good . . . for them and for me.
So I decided to add to my missionary granddaughter’s suitcase. This week’s exchange of emails included my needing-a-tissue-experience testimony.
When we feed the good . . . it all goes into the suitcase. We crowd out the bad with a full suitcase of good!
Fay A. Klingler is the author of the best-selling book The LDS Grandparents’ Idea Book, I Am Strong! I Am Smart! and many other books and articles (www.fayklingler.com). She can be contacted on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FayKlingler.