First of all, I had a baby last week. Pretty exciting, huh? I’m happy about it. I was in a bit of pain during the pregnancy, so it is nice to have the baby here, finally.
Included in all of the fun of post-partum is the insane hormonal fluctuations. For me, these ups and downs are usually triggered by worries about the future or past.
A few days ago, I had a flash of a realization. All of my kids will no longer be kids or babies, but will soon be tested. Okay, I already knew that. But this time, when I thought of it, I was overwhelmed with fear – for them. Would they choose the right? Would they choose to be happy? Will I have taught them enough? If I have taught them enough will they trust me and trust the Lord or will they rebel? What kind of temptations will they face? etc… (oh, and I may or may have been crying a little bit…yay baby-blues… 😉 )
Of course, even when our thoughts/fears are relatively irrational, it is nice to know that the Lord will still comfort us. I had given up worrying about the future – mainly because the crazy hormonally-driven-worry-state had passed…I had gotten sleep and some food – that usually does the trick for me. I had even forgotten about this little episode.
Then, yesterday, I ran across the following scripture:
“21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” – Alma 32:21
As I grew up Mormon, I’m quite familiar with this scripture. However, It came across differently yesterday. I felt assured and peaceful. I remembered that faith is not fear. Instead of worrying about potential problems that my children will face, I need to go forward with faith and hope.
As I think about this, I realize, faith needs to be a hope for things that aren’t seen which are true. So, instead of thinking, “Oh…everything will be okay. They will overcome their challenges.” I need to focus on what I know to be true. I can’t say how my children will choose to exercise their agency, but I can put my faith in something that is true.
Ways to exercise my faith (instead of fear)
- I can have faith in family prayer. I know that it unites our family. I know that it has brought peace and power into our home. I know that if I continue with family prayer, the experience will be worth more than all of the “sermons” I ever give my children. I know that they will gain confidence as they hear me express my love for them to Heavenly Father. And, even if they don’t develop their own testimonies of prayer, I can have comfort in the fact that I’ve brought the spirit into our home through prayer, and that they know that I have a testimony.
I hope that, perhaps, this experience will inspire them to go to the Father in prayer on their own. But even if they never do pray on their own, I can feel good about knowing that, through family prayers, they have had experiences with prayer.
- I can have faith in Family Home Evening – I have already seen how family home evening has blessed our lives. Our children love it. (knock on wood). They love to learn, they love to teach, sing, and do activities. Family Home Evening has been a very positive part of our family life. Sure, it isn’t “picture perfect,” but it is always helpful. One of the most positive parts of FHE is that through holding it regularly, we are able to address family issues in a safe, fun environment. We don’t have to make anyone feel “singled out”, but we are still able to gently correct our children. Not only that, but we (parents) are able to be taught by them (it is such a humbling thing – I think it’s really healthy for family life). We are able to laugh with one another.
I hope that they continue to love the way that Family Home Evening brings a spirit of love and unity into our home. I hope that, even if they don’t choose to accept the gospel, they will never forget the way that learning the principles of the gospel in FHE felt.
- I can have faith in family scripture study. – This is another source of peace that we are able to feel in our home on a daily basis. I’m grateful for a husband who does such a wonderful job in leading our family to reading and discussing the scriptures. We don’t do anything extraordinary. Usually, we read about 5-8 verses a night. We also discuss the verses. I want to make sure that scripture reading isn’t boring, but it is an edifying experience. Sure, when you’re only reading 5-8 verses an night, it takes a long time to get through the Book of Mormon (or other scriptures), but I don’t think that getting through the scriptures is the point of scripture study. I think the point is, and I hope my children will remember, that we have the spirit in our home on a daily basis. We have the scriptures, we learn from them, we apply them to our lives.
I hope that my children, even if they don’t accept the scriptures for themselves, will always remember that they have seen practical application of them in our home.
- I can have faith in their own strength. I can pray to see my children as Heavenly Father sees them. Is this true faith? I don’t know. This is interesting. But I guess what I’m saying is – I can let them express their agency. I don’t need to fear on how they’ll express it. Of course, I should prepare myself for future difficulties. It is a part of growing. However, I think that I should seek to see my children how Heavenly Father does – seeing their potential, and helping them to see it and want to achieve it.
When I was a youth, I was excited about the gospel. I didn’t always make the right choice, but I did have a testimony. Sure, I’ve matured since then, as has my testimony, but the point is, I remember having faith and testimony. I’m sure that my children won’t be all that different. I just need to be like our Father in Heaven, trust them a little bit, and gently guide them.
- I can have faith in the power of charity – Christ’s pure love. – I say this because I’m trying to develop charity. I feel like the phrase “Charity begins in the home.” is true. It is most essential (and probably most difficult) for me to develop a truly charitable love for my family members. My children need to know that I love them unconditionally. My children also need to know that my parenting stems from my love for them. (So – if I reward/punish them, it is out of love, not anger or emotion). My children need to know that my actions toward them are not manipulative or caused by hunger for power, but they need to know that I do what I do because I love them.
Heavenly Father is the best example of charitable parenting. He is always willing to be merciful, yet there are times when his children must be chastised. It is easier to get through life’s difficulties and to keep the commandments when we realize Heavenly Father loves us and his main plan is for us to be happy. When we experience His love, we trust Him. This is the kind of relationship I want to develop with my children.
I have faith that, if I develop charitable, true Christ-like love for my children, and they experience it, then they will be motivated to continue strong in the gospel. Perhaps they will develop that love towards others. And, even if they choose not to continue in the gospel, then they will not doubt how I felt about them…Oh, and I also feel like, If I’m successful in this way, then the love they feel will actually bring them closer to Heavenly Father than anyone else. In other words, I hope that through my love for them, they will recognize how much their Heavenly Father loves them.
So…I don’t need to fear the future. Sure, there are many dreadful things that we and our children will have to face. I know that there are many difficulties and temptations that our children must face. However, I have faith that Heavenly Father can help me overcome these difficulties. I don’t need to be afraid. I just need to work hard and rely on the Lord.