(I'm not looking too hot in this picture. It'd been a long day.)
A few weeks ago, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as the Mormons) gathered together in a churchwide conference. The leaders of the Church were able to speak to the members and provide counsel, insight, and clarification of doctrine. One of the people who spoke was a woman named Jean A. Stevens. She is a counselor in the presidency of the Primary Program, the group that works with children under the age of 12. Her talk in particular impacted me. She spoke about children and what we can learn from them.
The Savior told his apostles, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).
What is it about little children that makes them such great examples for us? For lack of a better term, they are so... childlike. Sister Stevens gave several examples of lessons she had learned from the children around her. You can read her talk here. I wanted to give some of my own reasons why we should become like little children.
Around the time my oldest boy was first learning to talk, he found a statue of Jesus that sat on a shelf outside of my room. He brought it to me and said, "Jesus!" He smiled so big, it could melt your heart. My response was, "We need to put Jesus back on the shelf." Later in the day, I realized that my priorities had been a little off. I didn't want him to break something. He just wanted to tell me about Jesus.
Every Monday night, we have Family Home Evening, a night where we can gather as a family and share Gospel topics and grow closer to each other. My husband and I thought the boys were a little young to really understand a lot of things, so we tried to keep it simple: sing a song, say a prayer and read a scripture. They love it so much that they ask us to read a scripture to them all the time. They don't understand the words, but they know how they feel when we study God's word.
As a parent, it is very easy for me to lose patience with my two very active boys. Especially when I'm taking care of the baby. They know all about forgiveness and love. No matter how frustrated I am, they know I love them. And they love me with all the intensity their little hearts can hold. They will drop toys or books or anything else to do something to help me. Just yesterday, my four year-old said, "Mommy, can I help you give my baby sister a bath?" They just love, without reservation, and they do things for the people they love.
I could go on about the hundreds of things my kids remind me (or teach me that I never understood.) I don't want to go into the realm of overkill.* I do want to say that being a parent is the most rewarding and difficult thing I have ever done. I love my kids in a way I never knew was possible. It's amazing and I would do anything to protect them and help them be happy.
This is one of my favorite teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. Families are one of the most important parts of this life. If we are good, honest, faith filled people, we can have the ones we love with us forever. I can't imagine a heaven where I couldn't have my husband and children with me. It wouldn't feel complete. I love having the goal of an eternal family to work toward. It makes all the mundane, trivial things stay firmly in their place, so that I can focus on the most important things.
So, my friends, what have you learned from your children or the children in your life? And if you are not familiar with the LDS Church and have questions, I would love to talk to you about it.
*Come back tomorrow for some discussion about how children are great examples of things writers should be doing! And check out the other great blogposts in the fest below.
Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”