We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. -Ezra Taft Benson
There are times in our lives that we want something that is not in line with what Heavenly Father wants for us. I have felt in my life that the Lord has led me gently and sometimes slowly to a better understanding of who I should be. Growing up, I was very ambitious and I had a lot of goals for myself. But a lot of those ambitions have faded away, because I know the most important things in life are sometime small things.
It is good to keep trying, even if we struggle with the same problems over and over again. Just try to do a little better. And follow any inspiration, no matter how small. Gradually, we will grow to understand what the Lord wants for us and what we can become.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.
Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-43
Lately, I have thought of this scripture as the ultimate guide to parenting. I’ve read parenting books that have much more complicated guidelines and suggestions. Those books have been helpful, yet they have sort of missed something that I feel this scripture captures perfectly.
Parenting isn’t complicated in principle, though it can seem extremely complicated in practice. I can’t control my children. I will never, ever be able to control my children. And this scripture tells me to give up control and go at it a different way.
Persuasion. Pure knowledge. I shouldn’t physically force my kids to do things. I shouldn’t command without another thought. I should persuade, explain things to my kids, give them reasons. I should help them make their own decisions. I need to teach them truth more than anything.
Gentleness. Meekness. Kindness. There really aren’t a lot of reasons to raise your voice and yell. A soft, kind word does a lot more than a loud, scary word. The other day, I was sort of frustrated with my daughter, and frankly hadn’t been a very good parent. My daughter was getting increasingly frustrated. But I took a step back and we went into my room together and we just talked, softly and gently with each other. The day after, when she was having a bit of a hard time, she asked, “Can we go in your room and talk again?”
Long-suffering. I think of this as patience. My kids do the same things wrong over and over again, even when they know better. But I can have patience! I can listen. I can keep trying with and never, ever give up on them. They’ll get it, even if it takes a long time.
Without hypocrisy or guile. My kids copy what I do. No matter what I tell my kids, they learn a lot more from what I do. I cringe when I see my own weaknesses, my own lack of self-control, sometimes reflected in my children. But they pick up on the good things too, and they know when I practice what I preach.
Reproving betimes with sharpness. I never have to accept bad behavior. Often, a child needs to know that what they did was wrong. They need someone to say no to them. They need limitations and rules, because those limitations and rules will keep them safe and actually give them more freedom in the long run.
Love unfeigned. Increase of love. Love is the most important. Sometimes when I tell my children they are doing something wrong, they fall apart on me. They don’t usually mean to do it wrong; they are just doing what they want. But even though I should correct bad behavior, afterwards I believe in lots of hugs, kind words, and forgiveness. A child should always be loved, and should always feel that they are loved, not matter what.
I am always striving to be a better parent, to treat my kids how they deserve to be treated. I still have a lot of work to do, but these simple words help me keep in mind the mother that I want to be.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I am often “cumbered about much serving” and “careful and troubled about many things.” I care too much about how clean my house is; what I am wearing; what I am cooking. I am troubled by my to-do list. I am worried about the future.
I have a picture of this story up on my wall to remember to not worry and to not care about stuff. Jesus said that one thing was needful. Only one. Mary say at his feet and listened. That is what matters.
I do have a lot to do, or a lot that I can do. But all those things should point me to my Savior, not take me away from Him. Serving dinner is not a bad thing, usually; but it was taking Martha away from the Savior. She wasn’t a bad person. She had a testimony and she probably wanted to show Jesus how much she loved him by serving him. But she got too carried away, too troubled with stuff. Even if her intentions were good in the first place, she ended up worrying too much about herself and not enough about things that really mattered. I don’t think Jesus cared about how nice her kitchen looked or how good the food tasted. He cared about the bigger picture. He loved Mary and Martha and He wanted to teach them the word of God.
There are times when I do have good intentions but I get carried away and those things that were once good are taking me away from the Savior. So I need to remember: only one thing is needful.
There is no better time because it is your time.
-Boyd K. Packer
Don’t wait. Don’t think that tomorrow might be better. Today is the best day because it is today.