After the death of our 18-year-old son, Jaxon, I reflected deeply on the quality and direction of my life. I had a child in the eternities, and I had an intense desire to live my life in a way so that someday we could again enjoy our family relationship. I also wanted to better understand the scriptures so that they would guide my life.
I am not quite sure when my interest in the heart began, but it was fueled by the hope of seeing our son again. As I read the Book of Mormon, I began to notice how the heart was used symbolically as the condition of a person’s life or a people’s direction or condition.
Every time the heart was mentioned, whether hard or soft, I would make a little red heart in the margin. I began to see patterns. When the hearts of the people were softened, they had strength to handle adversity, their love for others increased, and they became kinder and gentler. I learned that repentance is what changes hearts as we call upon the Savior and His atoning sacrifice.
I enjoyed a wonderful journey through the Book of Mormon. What I learned changed my heart, which has changed my life. What I learned has also helped me in my professional work as I assist couples through their challenges. I have come to understand that I can teach and remind couples about the common principles that bring marital satisfaction and true intimacy. But until they bring a soft heart to their marriage, change has little chance of occurring or enduring.
Since the time I made the hearts in the margins of my Book of Mormon, I have returned often to reread those passages and have continued to learn from those verses. I have even found new heart passages that I missed on the first reading, which reminds me that there will always be something new in the scriptures to learn, understand, and apply.
Most significant, I am reminded of the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior. Because of that love, I will have my family forever. I know this with all of my heart, for which I am deeply grateful.