Dad and I finally had time last evening to read Uchtdorf's talk titled "Lord, is it I?" We had quite a nice discussion about it. Then because it was on my mind, a story shared by a Stake speaker today in Sacrament meeting, touched my heart.
Attendance has been down, and today we had maybe 30 to 35 there at Sacrament meeting, with three of those being from the Stake. The Stake YM's president, an Africaan by descent I think, was the one who shared the story I was impressed by. Hopefully I can remember the important details of what he shared.
When he was a young boy, his science teacher gave each student three sunflower seeds and told them to go home and plant them, but with specific instructions. Two of the seeds were to be carefully planted with the small pointed end downward, and the third seed was to be planted with the large end down and the small pointed end up. They were to water them each carefully, by the schedule provided, give them plenty of sunlight, and take good care of each separate pot.
In time, the two seeds planted with the small pointed end down, grew quickly into healthy looking plants, needing transplanting into a bigger pot. Since instructed to take good care of each, he decided to check on the third seed. He carefully turned the pot upside down, and discovered that the third seed planted with the large end down and the pointed end upward, had in fact, grown as much as the other two seeds, but in a downward direction, and the seedling was touching the bottom of the pot. He decided to transplant this seedling, as well, but now turned to grow in an upward direction.
He proceeded to take excellent care of each of the three transplanted seedlings. The amazing thing was that not only did all three thrive, but the heartiest and most healthy looking of the three was the one that was planted upside down and had spent some time growing in the wrong direction Yet it became the most beautiful, the healthiest and the heartiest of the three.
Then to take this "parable of the three sunflower seeds" (as I will call it) and compare this to the parable of the dandelions, beams and the motes, and spiritual blind spots referred to in Uchtdorf's talk, I felt that an analogy could be drawn here, as well. Do we make harsh judgments on those who seem to be making wrong decisions in their lives and heading in the wrong direction, away from the Lord's counsel. Because we are steadfastly holding to the iron rod, do we feel that they must be following Satan's promptings, only to be led in a downward direction in life, and unable to turn their lives around. We no longer feel comfortable in their presence and seem to shun them for their decisions and behavior.
Yet, sometimes, even years later, we discover that they were able to learn from their experiences away from the Lord's light and in a downward direction, and are able to become strong, stalwart examples to others of the need for the Savior in their lives. They become leaders for the Lord's cause, because of their experiences. They may even put our mediocre attitudes of heading in the right direction to shame. We can learn how to become beautiful, shining examples of the Savior's Gospel, through their experiences of growing stronger through "the refiner's fire."