It’s what’s inside that counts, at least that’s what Mom always said. And while Joshua didn’t understand everything that that meant, he was sure that his mom knew what she was talking about when it came to chocolate-covered cherries. They were one of his dad’s favorite treats at Christmastime, and they had become one of Josh’s also.
This wonderful candy was shaped like a little pitcher’s mound with a swirl of chocolate on top. And while the chocolate outside was good, it was the inside that Joshua really loved: a gooey, sticky, sweet, white cream and liquid surrounding a delicious maraschino cherry. The liquid center sometimes made it a little difficult to eat without making a mess, but that challenge was all part of the fun.
Sometimes he bit right into the top and looked down as if looking into a volcano with a red-hot-lava cherry. Sometimes this caused the side to break, and the hot lava came gushing out onto his hand, making him slurp and lick as quickly as he could to keep from getting sticky all over. Sometimes he tried to eat one in one gigantic bite. Being only six, that was a lot of candy in his mouth and sometimes a little juice squirted out onto his chin.
But his favorite way to eat a chocolate-covered cherry was to turn it upside down and carefully nibble off the bottom piece of chocolate. That left him with a little cup full of delicious syrup with a cherry floating in it like ice cream in root beer floats. Then he would sip a little juice and nibble a little chocolate. He could eat the cherry inside whenever he wanted, but he usually saved it for his last bite!
One Saturday before Christmas, Dad asked that magic question, “Who wants a chocolate-covered cherry?” The family had just finished lunch, and Joshua thought that it was the perfect time for just such a treat.
Joshua and his brother, Jacob, both cried, “Me! Me!” Jaclyn, their older sister, would certainly want one, too, but she had finished lunch early and was in another room on the computer.
“Wait!” Dad said. He was standing in the kitchen, holding the box of cherries with a sad look on his face. “There are only two chocolate-covered cherries left. What should we do?”
Josh thought about it. They could cut one in half. They had done that before with other candy. But cutting a chocolate-covered cherry would only make a big mess and ruin the candy. They could just quietly eat them in the kitchen, and Jaclyn wouldn’t even know. But he knew that that wasn’t really fair.
He started to think about the family home evening lesson they’d had that week. They had learned that Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth and how He came to earth to give us all a very special gift that only He could give. The family had talked about how Christmas isn’t about all the things you get but about showing love to your family and friends.
Suddenly a wonderful and terrible thought entered his mind. It was terrible because it meant missing out on his favorite treat. It was wonderful because it was what Joshua knew that Jesus would want him to do.
“Dad,” he said, “you can give mine to Jaclyn.” He almost couldn’t believe his own mouth was saying those words. But as soon as he said them, he felt a wonderful, warm feeling inside. It was as if his whole insides had become like the inside of a chocolate-covered cherry—sweet and happy.
“Are you sure, Josh?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Josh said, this time with a smile on his face.
Dad gave the last piece to Jaclyn, and Josh couldn’t believe that he could be so happy about not getting a chocolate-covered cherry.
That night, after pajamas were put on, teeth were brushed, prayers were said, and Mom and Dad had kissed everyone and tucked them into bed, Joshua lay awake thinking about his day. As the glow from the Christmas lights on the house filtered into his room, he thought about his decision to give the last chocolate-covered cherry to Jaclyn and how happy she had been and how wonderful that had made him feel. And then he realized his mom was right—it is what’s on the inside that counts!
Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. That path leads to glorious joy and happiness.
Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(Ensign, May 1996, page 25.)