All living things need proper nourishment to grow. Without light, food, and water, the seedling can never become the fruitful tree.
Proper nourishment is also essential to the growth of a human soul. To nurture is to feed, nourish, or sustain. We nurture others physically when we share with them our food and our substance. We nurture them emotionally and spiritually when we strengthen and encourage them.
The Savior spent hours in friendship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He guided the impetuous fisherman Peter, counseled the wealthy young man, and lifted and encouraged the weak. He tenderly blessed the children.
Women seem to have a natural desire to nurture others. We can do so through words, example, and loving gestures. Two specific ways are to give small acts of caring and to exercise our faith in behalf of those in need.
When we see other people struggle with difficulties, we may think we are helping them when we criticize them or point out how they should improve. But the Lord has not asked us to “weed the garden”—or remove the faults—of another’s life.
Instead of judging or criticizing those who may be having difficulties, we can listen without advising, thus helping them find their own answers. And we can offer small acts of caring—an encouraging smile, an appreciative word, or a willingness to share an experience.
A young college student found herself almost overwhelmed by personal and family difficulties. “It was a time of grief and loneliness,” she recalls. “Then, Lila, a young woman who served with me in a ward calling, began stopping by my apartment to visit with me. Again and again her visits came at the very moments when I felt nearest despair. Her friendship gave me the courage to go on—not only because it lifted me—but because it showed me that my Heavenly Father knew my needs.”
When has someone’s caring helped you through a difficult time?
What specific things did that person do to nurture you?
Can you think of someone who needs that kind of nourishment from you now?
Another way to nurture others is to exert our faith and prayers in their behalf. Alma fasted and prayed for his troubled son—and his faith yielded great fruit in the spiritual nourishment of Alma the Younger. (See Mosiah 27:8–14, 20.)
A couple from California with children between the ages of eighteen and thirty found that fasting, praying, and attending the temple specifically for their children has blessed them:
“A son, suffering from a lack of testimony, long overdue to serve a full-time mission, was the subject of several of our special visits to the temple,” said the mother. “Following each visit [to the temple] came a spark of change into his life, and soon the fire of testimony burned brightly enough that he served his mission.” (Ensign, Mar. 1992, p. 71.)
Can you recall a time when your nurturing efforts brought comfort to a family member or a friend? What was your experience?
Who in your life might need your faith and prayers now?