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The Tree

The Self We Want To Be


The Tree

There was a tornado which went through the city in which I live recently. Though we were not in the tornado's path, we experienced very high winds, lots of rain, some hail, power and telephone outages, and flying debris. After the storm was all over, I went outside to survey the damage. To my surprise, the main part, including the top, of a tree just outside my bedroom window had fallen to the ground. If it had fallen at a slightly different angle, the tree would have landed on my bed.

There are many trees by my house. Many were the same size as this tree that fell. They experienced the same winds, rain, and hail as this tree, yet they stood firm. Why was this?

Well, I had noticed for quite some time that this tree that fell had a small split between its two main limbs. The wood in this small split had started decaying a little bit. It did not seem like a big problem, but this small split, given adverse circumstances, led to this tree being left with only one limb sticking straight out and no top at all! The other trees had no such split and remained strong throughout the storm.

People are like trees. People who do what they know is right are like those trees that stood firm during the storm at my house. They have integrity. They are unified within themselves. They are not weakened within, so when storms come into their life, they cling to their values and stand firm.

People who know that they should do one thing, but do another, are split. People who cannot decide if they will choose the right or the wrong are split. They may stand for a long time with this split and seem to be all right. We may see Latter-day Saint youth who go to drinking parties on Saturday and Church on Sunday. We may see people who are only as good as the crowd they are with because they let the crowd determine their behavior. These people may seem to do all right, even though they are split. The split does not seem that dangerous and does not seem to cause problems.

Then, the storm comes. It may be a family problem or a health problem. It may be wrong ideas presented as true by a trusted individual. It may be normal problems just from growing up. It may be a very persuasive person who does not live good standards. It may be a very cool party. It may be Satan, seeing a chance to win another soul.

What happens to the people who are split? Just like that tree, if they enter the storm already divided, they can easily fall and break apart. When already weakened, it takes much less opposition and adversity for a person to break. Unfortunately, divided individuals often act against their values. It is easier to fall than fight. It is easier to slide than climb--not only for mountains, but for values. We need to be strong enough to fight, to climb, to stand firm during adversity. We must not be our own worst enemy by not living our values, by living without integrity.

Storms come into every life. We are taught that earth life enables us to experience "opposition is all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). What we must do is be stronger than the opposition. We must live with integrity. We must be as the wise man who built his house upon a rock (Jesus Christ, his Gospel, and the standards he has given us) and whose house was not divided against itself (or we must be consistently righteous). 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 into the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock on which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

The Self We Want To Be

If we but shape our destiny,
We can become the self we want to be,
Not driven by whim, nor base desire,
But by the inner soul's Celestial fire.

For there lies within our inner spirit,
A still small voice, if we'll but hear it.
Its purpose is to guide aright,
To bless with wisdom truth, and light.

We dull that voice by sinful ways,
By pride of heart and worldly praise,
By seeking pleasures of the flesh,
Entwining our souls in Satan's mesh.

We tune our inner souls to God
by holding to the Iron Rod
And as we sorrow much for sin,
Behold, the voice of God beams in

To gently lead us with His sheep,
To green pastures and peaceful sleep,
Where all may learn His saving grace.
And meet our Savior face to face.

What joy, what joy will then be ours,
When we are freed from Satan's powers
To shape our lives eternally
Toward God's highest destiny.

James H. Lee Heart Thoughts by Jim

by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.

I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself up in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to think as I come and go
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself --- and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

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