Alma 32:27-28 "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."
Awhile ago I started an "experiment" similar to the one Alma is teaching the Zoramites about in this scripture. In fact, it's pretty much identical to it. I just didn't realize at the time I started, that that's what I was doing.
My "experiment" started in September when I attended an Institute of Religion class. All I had at the time was a "particle of faith," but it had been covered up under years and years of distorted thinking and too much relying on my perception of what other people thought of me (also distorted). I went to that first Institute class with a desire for something more truthful than what I was choosing to fill my head with. The very first day, I felt that "swelling motion" that Alma talks about. Remarkably, the whole lesson was personally relevant and applicable to my life and my current circumstances. It was as if the instructor had prepared his lesson specifically with me in mind. It was uplifting, inspiring, edifying and completely overwhelming. I made myself go back the next week just to see if it would happen again. When it did, I was hooked.
Alma 32: 29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith?...absolutely!!
I felt the "swelling and growing." And the more I felt it, the more desire I had for more of it. So I found other ways to duplicate that Monday morning Institute feeling...personal prayer and scripture study, attending the Temple, writing in my journal, being quiet, listening to talks in Sacrament. And each time, my little seed particle was more firmly rooted.
Alma 32:30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
And here's the ultimate test of the experiment...the fruit!
Alma 32:31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
When you have things in your head that are untruths, you inadvertently bring forth seeds that are not that great. My children heard a lot of criticism and gossiping and complaining from me because that's mostly what I had in my head. I thought I was nice and kind and compassionate, but I totally wasn't! (And neither were they.)
I can't yet say that my little seed has turned into a giant tree. (I'm thinking maybe a small, healthy sapling...)
...or that I've become perfect and therefore my children are also. (We're definitely NOT!) But there is no question that they are little reflections of their parents. "Every seed bringeth forth unto it's own likeness." And lately, there are better things to reflect, so the little "likenesses" that I see are amazingly beautiful.
TCD is compelled on a daily basis to keep her friends from doing things that are harmful and stupid. Spell Girl is kind and attentive and quick to say thank you. June is thoughtful and always writing letters to her friends and teachers. Mack is the first one to jump up and give someone a hug when they're feeling crappy.
Again, I want to make sure I'm NOT painting an unrealistic picture...there are still arguments over shoes and clothes and who's riding in the front seat. They still complain about chores and homework and practicing the piano (though not as often now that we have the TIMER!) They still forget to put away their laundry.
But I see in them lately, a greater desire to be good. They are less volatile, slower to anger, and more careful with their words. They are more willing to stop and listen. They love more things than they hate. They think about other people more than they used to. They don't give up as easily. And those are all good things.
If my tiny little "particle of faith" and desire to experiment with this "spiritual tree growing", have contributed to any of that, then it's been a successful experiment so far, and I'm going to continue to nourish the heck out of that little sapling!