Suffer the Children
I’ve been having trouble with one of my children. A certain five-year-old of mine is a bit of a bully. Jack had a very traumatic birth and has always been a little bit delayed. As such, I think it’s safe to say he’s been spoiled over the last five years. Now I am reaping my reward. I remember pouring my heart out to Matt not too long ago saying, “We’ve created a five-year-old monster and I have no idea how to fix it!”
It was about the time I realized this when I went to the Lord for help and received a very clear answer. “Spend more time with him.”
That, my friends, is far easier said than done.
I remember one such moment very clearly (stop me if I’ve told you this story already). I don’t remember all of the circumstances but I remember that Matt was on call and I was on my own. Jack was throwing an epic tantrum about a toy, a movie, or something else equally life-threatening. He was ordered to stay in the kitchen with me because he couldn’t be trusted not to take out his anger on his siblings. The constant yelling (from both of us) was really making us miserable. But, as a believer of the old adage “children who need to be loved ask for it in the most unlovable ways”, I was trying my best to strike a healthy balance between being firm and not giving into his tantrum, but doing so with love.
It was not going well.
Finally, I had enough. I was so done with the shrieking and excuses. I gave him dinner and told him he was going to bed early. It was then that a voice came to my mind and said, “read him a story.”
Neal A. Maxwell said, “If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.” In my melodramatic state of mind I can honestly say that, at that moment, reading a book to Jack was the hardest thing the Lord could have asked me to do.
I actually looked up towards the heavens and yelled, “I CAN’T!” Instead of immediately following a prompting from the Lord, I marched that little boy upstairs, got him ready for bed, gave him a bit of a lecture… then I humbled myself and read him a story. I didn’t respond as quickly as I think the Lord expected me to, but I did follow his instructions and the result was instantaneous once I did. Not only did Jack’s shrieking immediately cease, but with that look of wonder and innocence on his face, all of the bad feelings I had been harboring melted away. He didn’t get off scot-free, he had to stay in bed, but Satan no longer had hold upon my heart.
I once heard someone say, when asked who here favorite child was, “the one who needs me the most.” And Jack is the one that needs me most right now… so he’s going to be my favorite.
Earlier this week I read about Christ’s visit to the Nephites.
In the October 1992 General Conference, Michaelene P. Grossly said:
His invitation in verse 11 [3 Ne. 17:11] was neither casual nor inconsequential. “He commanded that their little children should be brought.”…
Clearly the Savior felt that the Nephite children were worthy not only to be in his presence, but they were also worthy of his time and his attention. The children needed him, and he stood right in their midst.
Verse 12 also indicates that Jesus waited “till they had all been brought to him.” He wasn’t looking for a representative sample, and he wasn’t content with just some of the children. He wanted them all to be there, and he ministered to them all.
Sometimes I forget that my little kids are people. That they have hopes, ideas, opinions, dreams… those thoughts and dreams may revolve around the next episode of Ninjago rather than world peace, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. So how can I expect the Lord to bless me and help me fulfill my dreams if I am unwilling to do the same for the children He has entrusted to my care?
Sometimes, my Jack is a jerk. But, sometimes I’m kind of a jerk, too. When I need help, I expect and sometimes demand that my Father in Heaven drop everything to help me through my problems, or at the very least, let me know I’m not alone. Doesn’t it follow that I need to fulfill that same role for my children?
If I may paraphrase 2 Nephi 14: 2, “For with what charity ye love, ye shall be loved; and with what compassion and patience ye mete, it shall be given to you again.”
Motherhood his hard! Every time I think I’ve got it all figured out I seem to have my feet knocked out from underneath me again. Some days (like today) I make all of the right choices and do everything I was supposed to do and I love my life. Other days I want to crawl under my covers with a bottomless pint of Ben and Jerry’s and surface when they are off for college. (fortunately those days are becoming fewer and fewer).
Elder Holland has said:
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The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work… often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island…
Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones…
Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.
He then quoted a letter from a young mother saying:
Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered.”
I have felt this! I have felt both the desperate need for Divine assistance, and also the peace and power that comes when I allow myself to receive it. I could go on and on about the resistance I give to the Lord on a daily basis, and I so wish it were easier to submit to God’s will. But I find comfort in the knowledge that He’s standing there, with arms outstretched, waiting to catch me when I finally fall at His feet.
When I was rereading Elder Holland’s talk, I was struck by these words:
When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you.
Admittedly, the idea of claiming promises from the Savior strikes me as a little odd, and even somewhat blasphemous. But if an Apostle of that God tells me that I have the right to claim those blessings than as long as I am doing my part, I can feel confident in doing so.
So, I have a challenge for my fellow mothers in Zion. Find out what the Lord expects of you, be anxiously engaged in whatever it is, and then claim the blessings that He is waiting to give you!