Several years ago, after hearing a young woman in our ward recite “The Living Christ,”1 I decided I would memorize it too. I took a small copy of the document with me as I ran in the early mornings. Because I was alone and distractions were minimal, this was an ideal opportunity for me to think. After several months of this, I was in great physical shape—and I had met my memorization goal.
As good as “finishing” felt, the long-term benefits were even better. I found myself thinking more often about Jesus Christ, His life, and His mission and wanting to be more like Him. I treated my husband and our children with more patience and love. I found greater peace and happiness in all that I did. And I felt greater joy in caring for and loving those around me. Then, like Lehi, who partook of the fruit of the tree of life, I wanted my family to experience what I had (see 1 Nephi 8:12).
I began seeking for ways that I could teach “The Living Christ” to our children. I recognized that they were young (our oldest was 11) and that this precious document was rather lengthy. But I had a desire, and after I prayed and thought about it often, the Spirit showed me how I could teach my family.
I had long collected pictures cut out of old Church magazines. I went to the box where I kept them and started pulling out pictures that seemed to match the different phrases in “The Living Christ.” For instance, for “He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament,” I found a picture of Christ, as Jehovah, talking with Moses. For the next phrase, “Under the direction of His Father,” I found a picture of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ standing together. Within a short time, I had gathered many pictures and paired them with their associated text from “The Living Christ.”
December seemed the perfect time for our family to start focusing on “The Living Christ.” Our children were excited and really got into our endeavor. We posted the pictures we were working on in our kitchen. I noticed that during the day, the kids would say the phrases as they passed by the pictures. When everyone had memorized the set of pictures on the wall, we put them away and started working on a new set.
With each picture, we discussed the gospel and life of Jesus Christ. Our family home evening lessons were filled with stories and lessons about the Savior. My husband taught some of the concepts in “The Living Christ,” bringing new insights.
Family prayers became more meaningful because the children gave more thought to Him in whose name they were praying. The Spirit filled our home. We felt like Nephi when he wrote, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ” (2 Nephi 25:26). Our home became a place of greater peace.
The blessings poured in, in ways I had never imagined. For instance, although I had tried simplifying some of the words for our youngest child, Joseph, who was four, he persisted in learning the complete document word for word. This became particularly poignant one week at church. The cover of the sacrament meeting program featured a picture of the Savior in Gethsemane that we had used in our memorization. Joseph pointed to the picture and said, “Look, Mommy. ‘He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind.’”
Another week we had a rough time at church; the children were more restless than they should have been, especially during the sacrament. The next night we talked about the sacrament in family home evening. We discussed its purpose and how we should behave as the sacrament is being passed. I asked the children what they thought about during the sacrament. Our 10-year-old, Sharanne, commented that she thought about the life of Jesus Christ and the words from “The Living Christ.” Nothing more needed to be said.
Another time, Joseph was having difficulty going to bed. He wasn’t cooperating and was irritable. I asked him to tell me some of “The Living Christ.” As he began, I could feel the Spirit come into the room. He calmed down and changed back into his normal, happy self. Some time later, on another night when he was restless, I tried it again. This time his reply was very different: “No! I don’t want to be happy!” Our young son had learned what remembering Jesus Christ could do. Indeed, the Savior had become more real to all of us.
Our family finished memorizing “The Living Christ” the following Easter. It was the greatest four-month experience we have ever had. Even though the project is over, I know the effects of what we learned can remain with each family member for the rest of our lives.
I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real. I am grateful to have a better understanding of Their works and to feel more deeply of Their love. I thank God for the matchless gift of His divine Son and for the beautiful experience of learning of Him and trying to become more like Him.