I have had a ton on my mind lately, but haven’t gotten it down on the computer, so, like many things, my thoughts have just floated out into the universe. Last night, Superman kindly took Princess Pea to his mother’s house so that I could have some time to myself and plan my lesson for Sunday. This past month has been insanely crazy in my house and I’m embarrassed to admit that I have been facing the overwhelming tasks with laziness. Anyway, I didn’t want to be lazy about my lesson for Young Women’s on Sunday.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the topic and how to specifically tackle it. With General Conference that had just happened, I wanted to include that as a large part of my lesson. Every time I tried to pick a talk or talks to work with, I was drawn over and over again back to Sister Neill F. Marriott’s talk from the General Woman’s Broadcast. I would push the talk aside and look for one from Saturday or Sunday, but the nudge wouldn’t budge so here I am, sharing my insights from her talk that hopefully will translate into a decent lesson.
If you would have asked me about my dad when I was younger, I would have told you that he is a strict man. I would have shared how he wakes up early in the morning, works hard all day. I would have shared how he spends a lot of time in meetings for work and church. I would have told you how he is good with tools and can fix and make almost anything. I would have shared that he tells funny stories and jokes. I would have probably told you he is really good at tying knots (from all the nights he tied my arms inside my long sleeve shirts and I would have to claw and use my teeth to un do them). My answer about who my dad is from when I was younger would be totally different than if you asked me today.
As an adult I see my dad through different eyes. He is an example of hard work and sacrifice. He goes without so he can give to others. He is an example of humility, always willing to be wrong, to let others be right, to not take credit. He is creative and intuitive. He solves problems with logic and is constantly learning and trying new things, growing talents and skills. He has a quick wit and humor about him. He sees the world from a different perspective, yet only shares it when asked. He has accomplished a lot, but never brags about it.
I have spent 31 years getting to know my dad, and I hopefully will spend many more getting to know him and find my list has changed dramatically. I lived most of my life (at this point, anyway) with my dad. By living with him, watching him, I feel like I have come to know him.
We too need to come to know our Father in Heaven. It may seem like a more daunting task than getting to know our earthly father, after all, it’s not like we can go over to His house, sit in the living room and talk for hours about everything and nothing. Yet, coming to know Heavenly Father is more vital than anything else. Our life should reflect Him, we should be striving to be like Him. The best way we can become like our amazing Heavenly Father, is to know, understand, and follow Christ.
Sister Marriot says ““We are duty-bound to learn all that God has revealed about himself.” We must understand that God the Father directed His Son, Jesus Christ, to create the earth for our growth, that Heavenly Father gave His Son to pay the demands of justice for our salvation, and that the Father’s priesthood power and the Son’s true Church with the necessary ordinances were restored for our blessings. Can you feel the depth of love running through Their preparations for our joy and growth? We need to know that Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation is that we obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel and gain eternal life and thus become as God is. This is the true and lasting happiness Heavenly Father offers us. There is no other true and lasting happiness.
Our challenges can pull us off this course of happiness. We can lose our trusting connection to God if trials drive us to distraction instead of sending us to our knees.
This simple couplet begs us to do some priority sifting:
Some things matter; some things don’t.
A few things last, but most things won’t.”
What matters to you? What is lasting to you?
As I asked myself these questions, I realized they have stayed mostly the same my entire life. My family matters to me. The gospel matters to me. My covenants matter to me. Being honest matters to me. I turned the questions and thought, what matters to my dad? What is lasting to my dad? And even when further: What matters to my Heavenly Father? What is lasting to Him?
Sister Marriott relates the image of a dirty pitcher and how we are like that dirty pitcher, but must use Christ and His Atoning love to become clean and pour out our love into others. In order to make this happen, we must humble ourselves.
“How was I to get the residue of pride out of my pitcher? Independently forcing ourselves to have humility and trying to make ourselves love others is insincere and hollow, and it simply doesn’t work. Our sins and pride create a breach—or a gap—between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father.”
I have spent a large portion of my life working with children. From the time I was twelve years old, I began babysitting, followed by nannying, working in before and after care, kindergarten, preschool, and so on. I have also dedicated a large portion of my education to learning about and understanding children and how they develop and grow.
After having my own child, I felt more confident in my understanding and knowledge of children and their needs and development.
For a time, I was working in an infant classroom. I knew the babies and loved them. There was a new baby that had arrived. She was tiny, less than three months old. She was on oxygen, because her lungs weren’t at full capacity yet. At first, the idea of taking care of a baby in this condition was intimidating, I was certain that with all my training and experience I was more than good enough.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked out. This baby cried, a lot. She didn’t care if I sat next to her talking and playing with her. She didn’t care if I held her and sang to her. She was not having me. We came to a mutual toleration. She would be content with my attention, my diaper changes, my songs. But when it came time to feed her, she would fight, cry, and do everything but drink her bottle.
I tried again and again, but it did no good. Finally, I would give up. The other teacher would quietly come behind me and feed her with no problems, no issues, no fight. I didn’t understand it.
Part of me wanted to be done with it. The other teacher could do it all for her, and I would give my efforts to the other babies who appreciated and accepted me as their care giver. But the stubborn part of me did not want to give up.
After a lot of struggle, I finally began to ask for help. I turned to the other teacher for help. Yes, she was older than I was. She had longer years working with children, but in my pride, all I saw was I had gone further in the field, studied more, had more education. It was hard at first, but as I asked her for help, I began to learn. I saw how she fed her, how she rocked her, how she attended to this tiny baby. I was humbled.
How have you been humbled? How has being humble helped you?
“Sacrifice of our personal agendas is required to make room for the eternal plans of God. The Savior, who speaks for the Father, pleads with us, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” Drawing near unto the Father can mean learning of His truth through the scriptures, following prophetic counsel, and striving to do His will more completely.”
I find that it is way easier for me to watch several episodes of Call the Midwife on Netflix than it is for me to study my scriptures. I found that I needed to make the change. Sacrifice what I wanted to do (watch TV) for what I should be doing (drawing closer to Heavenly Father). By making Heavenly Father a priority, my life changed. My family was happier, I felt more fulfilled. At the end of the day, I didn’t look around and feel unaccomplished. I found I knew who I was better than I had the day before.
Sacrifice doesn’t always have to come as this big earth shattering moment. It’s not always the giant gesture that puts ourselves at a loss, but it can often be the setting aside of what we want most to help others get what they need.
I love this video from the Mormon Channel. I have had days where I have felt like the mom in the video, constantly trying and scrambling to get it all done, only to find I didn’t get the ending I wanted, but it was the outcome Heavenly Father needed.
Just because you give and give doesn’t always mean the end will be that fairy tale. We will still struggle and have trials, but when we put Heavenly Father and His wants for us first, we will never lose.
How has sacrificing helped you?
“Isaiah spoke of those who faithfully live the law of the fast and thus become for their own posterity a repairer of the breach. They are the ones who, Isaiah promises, will “build the old waste places.” In a similar way, the Savior repaired the breach, or distance, between us and Heavenly Father. He, through His great atoning sacrifice, opens the way for us to partake of God’s loving power, and then we are enabled to repair the “waste places” in our personal lives. Healing emotional distance between each other will require our acceptance of God’s love, coupled with a sacrifice of our natural selfish and fearful tendencies.
One memorable night a relative and I disagreed about a political issue. She briskly and thoroughly took my comments apart, proving me wrong within earshot of family members. I felt foolish and uninformed—and I probably was. That night as I knelt to pray, I hurried to explain to Heavenly Father how difficult this relative was! I talked on and on. Perhaps I paused in my complaining and the Holy Ghost had a chance to get my attention, because, to my surprise, I next heard myself say, “You probably want me to love her.” Love her? I prayed on, saying something like, “How can I love her? I don’t think I even like her. My heart is hard; my feelings are hurt. I can’t do it.”
Then, surely with help from the Spirit, I had a new thought as I said, “But You love her, Heavenly Father. Would You give me a portion of Your love for her—so I can love her too?” My hard feelings softened, my heart started to change, and I began to see this person differently. I began to sense her real value that Heavenly Father saw. Isaiah writes, “The Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
Over time the gap between us sweetly closed. But even if she had not accepted my changed heart, I had learned that Heavenly Father will help us love even those we may think are unlovable, if we plead for His aid. The Savior’s Atonement is a conduit for the constant flow of charity from our Father in Heaven. We must choose to abide in this love in order to have charity for all.”
We all have had the moment of harsh feelings and hurt because of someone else. I have read countless blogs of people coming to church and being hurt or offended because they feel judged or that others are judging them. The challenge isn’t to make that person who hurt you hurt, or change, or even apologize (even though that’s what we want). The challenge is to love them anyway.
When Princess Pea was not quite old enough for nursery, I dreaded church. I came every Sunday and felt I was just wandering the halls. I wanted to be filled by lessons and spiritual experiences, but instead I was chasing down a wild toddler. I made a deal with myself, I would wander during Sunday School, but I would not miss Relief Society.
Pea was not on board. She wanted to wander the Relief Society room and play. She wasn’t noisy, so at times, I would let her go. She would silently go from lady to lady collecting their colorful jewelry and come back feeling proud. I would have her return her stolen goods and try to get her to be reverent, but I really wanted to focus on the lesson.
One Sunday, a women in the Relief Society presidency approached me. She had set up a chair and a blanket in the back corner of the room. There were a few toys and things for a small child. She informed me that all mothers of small children were to sit in the corner to make it easier for everyone else to hear the lesson. I sat in my new assigned seat only to find that I was the only mother that had been singled out. All the other mothers were sitting where ever they wanted and I was by myself in the back corner.
I was so beyond hurt. Didn’t that sister know that this was the only chance I got for spiritual nourishment? It was the only time I had to be with other sisters in the gospel and now I was shoved into the corner, alone and forgotten.
I didn’t stay for the announcements. I grabbed my daughter and left the room before I began to cry. I spent the next several weeks wandering the halls until Princess Pea became old enough for nursery.
I remember sharing my hurt with my family and a close friend. They were shocked that it was this certain sister that had been the perpetrator. She was known for being such a nice and loving sister. I prayed to get over my hurt feelings, but it took a while.
One day I found myself talking to this sister. From our conversation, I found her to be just like me, a daughter of Heavenly Father, wanting to find spiritual nourishment. By the time we moved, I was over what had happened, and was able to see her as all those around me did.
We have moved wards and I still see her every now and then. We are always able to greet each other with a smile. She has expressed love and concern for me on several occasions and I am so grateful that I was able to move beyond the hurt and see that wonderful person she really is.
How have you used Heavenly Father’s love or the Atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome a challenge and love someone?
The best way to draw closer to Heavenly Father is through our Savior, Jesus Christ. By seeking Him, sacrificing, humbling ourselves, and loving others, we can come to know Them better.
I would love to hear the answers to the questions in the comments!