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Years ago, when I was working in wilderness therapy with at-risk youth we would use to use fire as a metaphor to teach them how powerful they could be in making their own life decisions. Having a fire out in the darkness of the woods has so many implications about how to keep a light burning bright in your own soul, I don't even know where to begin!
For starters, fire is a source of warmth and heat. You need it to stay warm and to survive the cold, dark nights. When it's dark and cold out everyone gravitates towards the fire as a source of comfort. The heat from the fire brings security and peace of mind as you let the warmth penetrate your body and calm your tired and weary thoughts.
Fire is also necessary to survival! Without fire we couldn't cook our food or boil our water for drinking. Keeping the flame burning bright takes a lot of effort, but that effort makes all the difference between starving or thriving out in the wilderness.
People not only gravitate towards fire for warmth and survival, but also because of it's beauty. Have you ever sat around a bonfire and just stared at the bouncing flames and dancing shadows created by the fire? This simple, beautiful show of nature draws us in and mesmerizes our hearts and minds. We become calm and trance-like as we sit and ponder the importance and awesomeness of our own lives.
Getting a fire started is a lot of hard work! First you need to collect all the ingredients to ignite the flame and keep it going. You need kindling, such as small sticks, dry leaves, or bark. Once you ignite the kindling you have to nurture it by blowing on it and adding more kindling as needed. This part is so fragile and susceptible to failure! You have to take special care not to smother the fire as you carefully help the flames to spread and ignite each other. This part can be frustrating and tiring if you don't have the patience or not enough kindling. Next you need larger sticks to put on top of the kindling to get the fire to grow stronger in your fire pit. As the fire spreads and grows you need to keep adding bigger sticks and logs to help it grow brighter, hotter, and more powerful. Finally, once you have a big, bright, strong, powerful fire, you can relax and let it serve you. It's a lot easier to maintain a fire once it is burning bright, but be careful not to ignore it and let the flames go out, or you have to start all over again.
Doesn't this apply to our testimonies in such a perfect way? Our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ are like a big, bright, strong, powerful light in our lives! They provide us with peace, comfort, security, and warmth in a world filled with a lot of darkness and confusion. A strong testimony calms our tired minds and weary thoughts and allows us to feel the love and comfort of our Savior. Our testimonies help us to survive and thrive in a world that teaches us so many conflicting principles. When we have the light of Christ in our hearts we know who we are and where we are heading. We don't have to question our faith because we know where to turn for truth and light. Even on the darkest, coldest nights of life, our Savior's light penetrates our souls and reminds us of the beauty we carry within us. People gravitate towards our testimonies because of the shining examples we set. With our lights burning so bright we pull others into the gospel truths, allowing them to feel the goodness of the Savior in their own lives.
Sometimes when life gets hard, overly busy, or too distracted, and the answers we need don't come easily, we ignore our testimonies. We don't nurture them as closely as we should, allowing the flames to die out and the light to diminish. We smother them with our doubts and our fears, till there is nothing left but a pile of burnt sticks and blinding smoke.
It's hard work to build up our testimonies again! We have to keep nurturing them! We can't ignore them! We have to keep them alive if we want to reap all the benefits of having this strength and power in our lives. We have to keep feeding the flames of our testimonies by actively seeking the things that will help them to grow! We have to collect the ingredients to ignite our spiritual fires and use them to keep the flame of our belief burning bright. The ingredients are all around us, simple and perfect: Saying our daily prayers, studying the scriptures, attending church and especially taking the sacrament, honoring our baptismal covenants, and applying gospel principles to our everyday lives.
If we keep doing these things, our testimonies grow more powerful with truth and light. If we ignore them or push them aside, our testimonies start to smolder and die out. There will be a lot of smoke, but no flame.
Oh how I love this metaphor! It has reminded me again and again how powerful my testimony can be when I take the time and effort to nurture it! It reminds me that I have the power within me to keep the light of Christ as light or as dim as I want it to be. That strength is entirely in my hands as I wake up each day and make decisions for myself and my family. If I want to walk through my day as a big, bright, strong, shining light for myself and others to benefit from, then I may do so by nurturing and feeding my testimony. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and the light I receive from living and following His gospel.
*The rest of this post can be read on Saints and Sisters, a blog for LDS Women. Haven't joined yet? Come see for yourself the love and camaraderie we've created on this tribe!