One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen.
The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart. Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said "Why, your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine."
The crowd and the young man looked at the old man's heart. It was beating strongly, but it was full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn't fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.
The people stared -- how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought?
The young man looked at the old man's heart and saw its state and laughed.
"You must be joking," he said. "Compare your heart with mine. Mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears."
"Yes," said the old man, "yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love - I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren't exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared."
"Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn't returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges -- giving love, is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?"
The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man's heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.
The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man's heart flowed into his.
As I have thought about it more and more this story symbolizes more than just an old man, a boy, and their hearts; by more I believe that it symbolizes Christ, each of us, and His wonderful atonement or the piece of His heart that He has selflessly and willingly given to each and every one of us. So today I would like to talk about gratitude and some of the many ways that each of us can show gratitude to the Savior for the piece of His Heart that He has given each of us, and how each of us can give a piece of our heart back to Him.
The first way we can show our gratitude to the Savior is to be grateful for the little things. The more that you thank God for what you have, the more you have to be thankful for. When I was very little there were many weekends that I would spend the weekend with my grandma, or as I like to call her Nanny; because of the distance that we lived apart we would meet half way and she would drive me and my little brother the rest of the way to her house. I will always remember how we would sing primary songs as would drive to her home, one of them I loved to sing was My Heavenly Father Loves Me, the particular words I loved are; “He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings, He gave me my ears that I might hear the wonderful sound of things, He gave me my life, my mind, my heart I thank Him reverently, for all His creations for which I’m apart yes I know Heavenly Father loves me!” As I really began to think about it I was amazed on how much I took for granted in my life, such as each breath I take, the beat of my heart, the hands I work daily with, and yes even a really cold winters day because if it weren’t for the very cold day I probably wouldn’t enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate as much. When we begin to notice those little things we are blessed with we begin to see how overly abundantly we are blessed each day!
The next way that we can show our gratitude to Christ is to Pray, pouring out our heart in thanks. We should pray as Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon, “whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people.” A few years ago one of my seminary teachers gave each of his students a challenge, he gave each of us a piece of hard candy and challenged each of us to go home that night put the candy into our mouth, kneel on our knees and suck on the candy while saying a prayer of gratitude not asking for anything just giving thanks, and we weren’t allowed to bite the candy. As I knelt there it was a little tough at first to get started because of the candy, but it began to get easier and easier and before I knew it the candy was gone, but I kept going, giving thanks; it was one of the longest and most meaningful prayers that I have said and it felt absolutely amazing and the spirit was so strong, and I have done this many times since. President Hinckley once said, “Get on your knees and thank Him for His goodness to you and express to Him the righteous desires of your hearts. The miracle of it all is that He hears. He responds. He answers—not always as we might wish He would answer, but there is no question or doubt in my mind to He answers.” Isn’t it amazing to know that no matter what we are going through, we are never alone? There is always someone you are able to talk to, who knows every little thing that you are feeling; I love this so much and I’m extremely grateful for prayer.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love quotes, and one of my many favorite is this; “We ask for strength and God gives us difficulties which make us strong; we pray for wisdom and God sends us problems, the solution of which develops wisdom; we plead for prosperity and God gives us brain and brawn to work; we ask for favors and God gives us opportunities.” This brings the next way we can show our gratitude which is thanking Christ for each of our trials and for the opportunities of growth. Throughout our lives we are all faced with many trials, it doesn’t matter who we are the trials will come, they may be small, they may be bigger, but we will face trials, because that is why we are here on this earth, to be tested and prepared for eternal life ahead, but unless we are challenged we won’t know how far we can reach! This is why we should show gratitude to the Lord for our trials, because He gives them to us to help us grow, and to become more like Him and our Heavenly Parents.
This brings me to the next way we can show our gratitude to Christ; which is reading the scriptures to learn more about Him. Sister Elaine S. Dalton once said, "Everything in the scriptures is applicable to our lives. The scriptures answer our questions, they provide role models and heroes, and they help us understand how to handle challenges and trials. Many times the scriptures you read will be the answer to your prayers.” As I have read the scriptures I have read about many of these heroes and role models, and I have learned much from each one, but my absolute favorite hero and role model is our Savior. When we read the scriptures to learn more about the Savior we can’t just read them once, Sister Julie B. Beck said, "It would be impossible to learn the lessons the scriptures contain by reading them only one time through or studying selected verses in a class.” The reason we should read and study the stories over and over again is because through the spirit you will learn something new each time you read. When we read about Christ; we learn more about Him; when we learn more about Him; we become more like Him; when we become more like Him; we become fit instruments in His hands for Him to use to help others.
Which leads me to the next, and I believe one of the most important ways to show about gratitude to the Lord which is doing service and charity as He would. President Hinckley once shared a story that I would like to share.
“An older boy and his young companion were walking along a road which led through a field. They saw an old coat and a badly worn pair of men’s shoes by the roadside, and in the distance they saw the owner working in the field.
“The younger boy suggested that they hide the shoes, conceal themselves, and watch the perplexity on the owner’s face when he returned.
“The older boy … thought that would not be so good. He said the owner must be a very poor man. So, after talking the matter over, at his suggestion, they concluded to try another experiment. Instead of hiding the shoes, they would put a silver dollar in each one and … see what the owner did when he discovered the money. So they did that.
“Pretty soon the man returned from the field, put on his coat, slipped one foot into a shoe, felt something hard, took it out and found a silver dollar. Wonder and surprise [shone] upon his face. He looked at the dollar again and again, turned around and could see nobody, then proceeded to put on the other shoe; when to his great surprise he found another dollar. His feelings overcame him. … He knelt down and offered aloud a prayer of thanksgiving, in which he spoke of his wife being sick and helpless and his children without bread. … He fervently thanked the Lord for this bounty from unknown hands and evoked the blessing of heaven upon those who gave him this needed help.
“The boys remained [hidden] until he had gone.” They had been touched by his prayer and felt something warm within their hearts. As they left to walk down the road, one said to the other, “Don’t you have a good feeling?”
As we can see from this story that many times the answers to peoples prayers are answered through the Lord by using us as His instruments, through service. There are many ways we can do service and show charity; such as helping a neighbor in need, doing service in secret, visiting teaching, home teaching, a friendly hello and smile to a random person, and my favorite, missionary work! When I opened my mission call my absolute favorite part is “You are hereby called to serve in Chile Concepcion Mission.” I wasn’t called to just work and get things done, I was called to serve! Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love charity and service; in the scriptures it mentions that charity is the greatest of all the gifts of God; this is why every day we should pray to have service opportunities and take the action to find them.
Finally the last way I would like to talk about today about showing gratitude to the Lord is by bearing testimony of Him. One thing that I love about the scriptures is if you look hard enough you can find hidden treasures. There is a hidden scripture in Moroni that someone showed me that I have never forgotten. This hidden scripture is in Moroni 7 and it is hidden in verses 26 and 31 starting in 26 and going across the page it says “And as surely as Christ liveth, bear testimony of Him.” In the scriptures we are told that we should be witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places; when be bear our testimony, we become a witness of the savior, and I believe that this is a wonderful way to show our gratitude to him. Along with Moroni’s testimony I would like to add my own by saying things that I am grateful for in my life and I know to be true.
I’m very grateful for my family, for my extended family and the things that they teach me, for my brothers and sister that I have been able to grow up with and have and continue to have wonderful memories with. I’m grateful for my grandparents and the wise words that they teach me over the years as I have been growing up. I’m especially grateful for my three wonderful parents; my dad who has always been there for me with anything I need, my mom who has taught me so many things that has helped me become the person I am, and my birth mom, even though she isn’t with me physically I know she is with me all the time as my guardian angel, guiding and protecting be throughout my life. I don’t think I can ever show my complete gratitude but I will always try to.
I’m also very grateful for the many friends in my life, for the times we have had to be together, to laugh together, to cry together, to pray together; I’m grateful for the many examples that you have been in my life, and it is more than many of you realize; and I hope that each of you know you have a piece of my heart.
I’m grateful for President Thomas S. Monson. He is such an amazing man, and has taught so many wonderful truths and I know that he is a true and living prophet on the earth today.
I’m grateful for a young boy who had a question and went into a grove to find an answer. I’m grateful that Joseph Smith through the power of God was able to translate the Book of Mormon, and I’m grateful for the teachings that are in it.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission, and to serve the Lord for the next 18 month of my life. I don’t know any of the people that I will be serving, but I do know that every day as I pray for the people in Concepcion Chile I have grown a greater love for them, because I’m able to feel the love that Heavenly Father and the Savior has for them.
Most of all I’m extremely grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ, for His selfless, infinite, wonderful, atonement. I am definitely in no way perfect, but I hope that as I continue to learn about the Savior, to little by little gain Christ-like attributes to become more like the Savior, and to become a fit instrument within His hands.
I know with all my heart, might, mind, and soul that they things I have told you today are true, and that we can each give a piece of our heart to the Savior, when we show our gratitude to Him through many ways. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.