Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How becoming a parent has helped me feel God's love

I gave a talk in church this past Sunday about parenting, and since I have been experiencing a major writer's block this year, I figured I would share an excerpt of my talk here. 

A father's love
The other day my midwife and I were having a wonderful conversation about Heavenly Father and how He interacts with us as His children. She said (I'm paraphrasing), "On our best parenting days, we get a small glimpse into how Heavenly Father feels about us and how He parents us." I don't know about you, but sometimes when I tell my kids something, especially when I am trying to teach or correct them, I have to stop and chuckle to myself. During those moments, I feel like Heavenly Father is saying to me, "That is what I have been trying to tell you, Kristi." Then I think, "Well played, Heavenly Father. Well played. I hear you." In those moments I feel like He hears me, sees me, and loves me.

Another way that Heavenly Father interacts with us as His children that I aspire to emulate is that He allows us to experience the consequences of our choices- whether we make good choices or not so good choices. Ideally, I hope that I can instill in my children the desire to choose righteousness because it is something that they want for themselves and not because it is something that I am forcing on them. Heavenly Father gives us many opportunities to make choices. For example, are we going to choose righteousness and all the blessings that come with is, or not?

My hope is that when my children are little, they can learn that their choices have consequences. I'd prefer that they can practice this when the consequences are pretty tiny, so that when they are older and the choices are more important and the consequences are bigger, they'll lean towards choosing the right. For now, some of the examples of choices and consequences that we deal with include:

  • Jumping on the couch when I ask them not to and they bump their head
  • Eating too much candy after I asked them to only eat one piece and they get a tummy ache
  • Messing around at bedtime too much and we run out of time for a story
  • Taking their shoes off in the car after I've asked them not to and they have to walk back to the house barefoot on a too hot, too cold, too wet, or too sidewalky sidewalk

Sometimes lessons aren't learned until after great pain. As much as it might hurt Him to do so, Heavenly Father allows His children to go through painful experiences. Sometimes our kids might make decisions that cause them a lot of pain, and as a result of their suffering, our hearts break for them. Sometimes their suffering can come as a result of other peoples' actions. Sometimes all we can do is wrap our arms around them, let them know that we love them, and just be there for them as they go through those experiences. 

I am always telling my kids to watch their fingers and to not put them in places they shouldn't be. One day I wasn't paying attention enough, and Kimberly (my youngest) was ignoring my instruction to watch her fingers. I accidentally smashed her fingers in the door to our laundry room. I thought she was out of the way, but she wasn't. It was awful. I scooped her up and held her as she cried and cried and cried. I was trying not to cry too. As a result of my negligence, I caused my child to experience great pain. In that moment, there was nothing I could do to take her pain away. All I could do was hold her, let her cry, and just be there for her as the pain slowly went away. Eventually her poor little fingernails turned pink, then red, then blue, purple, and black, and then they fell off completely. They've since grown back, and all is well. However, now she really pays attention when I say the words, "Watch your fingers."

I find it kind of funny that I'm supposed to teach my children, but I seem to learn so much about my relationship with Heavenly Father from them. I used to really wonder about people when they would say that they learn so much more from children than they could ever teach them. Now I'm finally starting to understand what they meant.

The day after I gave my talk, this video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I feel like it captures so beautifully what I was trying to say.

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