As I sat at the kitchen table this morning eating breakfast, a lovely 60 degree breeze wafted through the open window, carrying the sweet scent of orange blossoms. My favorite smell in the entire world! As I gazed out at the porch it dawned on me that the smell was coming from the tree that I so lovingly planted this past spring. Well, the tree was lovely at first, however once the Arizona sun got to beating it down with its cruel blazing rays and sweltering heat, the poor tree was withering, losing leaves and almost at the brink of death.
I looked on through the summer, trying different techniques with watering, and placing it in more/less direct sunlight, but to no avail. It seemed hopeless...my beautiful orange tree was dying. The lime tree I had planted seemed just perfect...it was also actually starting to grow limes!!
But, how could that be? I did the same thing for both trees, yet one was dying and the other was thriving!!
A few weeks ago we had a burst of cold weather where it dropped down to 60 degrees every day for a week. As it did so, my beloved orange tree started to perk up and the leaves started springing back to life, and blossoms started to emerge. What? How did this happen? I didn't do a thing and all of a sudden my orange tree is more beautiful than ever!
This is next part is deep, even for me...here is your forewarning...
I was feeling very introspective this morning and I realized how this must be the same as how Heavenly Father views us- His children. My analogy, if you will... My dying orange tree was like someone living in sin...little by little pulling farther and farther away from the good of the Savior- living in sin. Even though good things were being brought to the tree's attention- like more/less water, shade/light, etc.- like reading the scriptures, attending church, saying prayers, etc. the tree was still sick and dying. But once the environment changed (once the weather cooled down) the tree began to live again. This could be looked at like accepting the Atonement of the Savior and utilizing help to repent and truly LIVE in happiness and a clear conscience. We can be whole again...just like my little tree. Even when we wilt and lose leaves, through the Atonement we can grow even more beautiful and blossom when we accept help and repent. I came to the realization that sometimes our literal environment MUST change in order for us to be close to the Savior and allow us the opportunities to cultivate our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is so much I need to do about myself to get to that place that I ultimately want to be, but all in all, I must go one step at a time.