Mushroom marvels: How to inspire desire in learning and living joyfully
My Number 1 goal as a homeschooling teacher is to instill a love of learning in my children. I hope they will want to learn … to actually love the learning process.
My Number 1 goal as a mother is to instill a love of Christ in my children. I hope they will want to live righteously … to actually love the Savior so much that they follow His footsteps.
But I haven’t figured out how to teach someone to want something … to want it deeply enough that they do it with all their heart, might and mind. Desire can’t be wrapped or won. It can’t be demanded or commanded to appear. Desire is deeply personal and personally driven. And when someone else doesn’t want that valued thing/idea/hope you wish they wanted, it hurts.
So, my question is: How do I inspire desire in learning and living?
Stick with me while I work through recent thoughts about this …
I love diving into a subject and soaking up information until my brain is full (which doesn’t always take long). For example, last year I fell head-over-heels for birding. I took binoculars, guide books and my children on hikes and to nature preserves in order to see the amazing variety of birds. We rented documentaries and books from the library. We started counting how many species we could see each drive from our house to my parent’s house (I think our highest count was 11). I became slightly obsessed … and my nest of kiddos flew right alongside me.
And though I still adore my feathered friends, this season I’ve added a new infatuation: mushrooms. Yeah, I know … it’s weird. I’m not sure what makes these fungi so fun, but I’m hooked. We tromp outside in the rain with our camera and identification books. We pull over when we see them growing at the base of trees in stranger’s yards just to jump out of the van and goggle. We can’t seem to go on a walk without spotting several species. And my kids play the game fervently. “MUSHROOM!” they’ll yell out with enthusiasm. It seems my ‘shroom crush is contagious. I’m thrilled about that – but I’ll be honest, even if they didn’t play the game I’d play it solo.
Reflecting on these experiences offers me lessons about inspiring desire.
FIRST: To inspire desire, the desire must live deeply driven within my heart. For the Gospel, that means I develop and nourish my own testimony first. For secular studies, that means a love of learning starts with my own love of learning.
SECOND: Surround myself with that desire – using tools to learn more, and environments and experiences to deepen desire and knowledge. On a spiritual level, I need to soak up all I can from scripture study, modern-day prophets, prayer, church meetings and the temple. These are vital elements to maintaining desire. On a secular level, the tools come in different forms (like professional experts, books, guides and founded field trips) but the purpose is the same.
THIRD: Teach and talk about what I learn. In the October General Conference, Henry B. Eyring began his address by saying, “My purpose is to increase your desire and your determination …” He then shared personal experiences that taught him … most of them founded on observing his father’s experiences. Interestingly, by Pres. Eyring talking and teaching from lessons he’s learned, my desire to learn those same lessons increased – which was exactly his pre-planned purpose.
FOURTH: Share the joy that follows the inspired desire. This one’s the kicker. The only reason my littles like mushrooms is because mommy smiles from ear to ear and sprints for them. They see the joy it brings me, and they’re attracted to joy. Aren’t we all? If my life’s work comes across as stressed, frustrating, desperate or miserable, why would anyone want a life like mine? I hope my daughters grow up wanting to be a mom … So I have to ask myself if I make motherhood look joyful? How about living the Gospel? Does it really appear to be a Plan of Happiness? As we “let our light so shine” those around us will experience and then crave similar light.
FIFTH: Desire is a personal decision … I must make my choice to desire regardless of others’ choices. Bottom line: I can’t force desire. Not only will it not work, but it’s against the Plan of Salvation. Heavenly Father gives the gift of agency – the gift that offers choice. Who am I to thwart that? Just as I realized I’d be crushing on ‘shrooms solos, I know I will love Christ and follow Him even if I’m alone in that love …. Though I’ll pray that’s never the case.
Looking back at photographs from this season’s mushroom, I marvel. I marvel at each mushroom’s individuality and beauty. I also marvel the memorable hunt that came with each mushroom …. What a perfect representation of hunting for life’s lessons … each lesson learned is individual and beautiful, growing at its own pace and place.
Today, I’m thankful for the lessons in how to better inspire desire.
What lessons are you learning?