If there is any universal pain in the human heart, it has something to do with our children making stupid decisions. We love them enough to lay down our lives for them, but they can’t see much beyond their hormones and stomach. For a people who believes in agency, I think we take way too much blame for our children’s failures, and far too much credit for their successes. It is more likely they fail and succeed in spite of us, than because of us.
Having said that, it is also true that our children can be both our greatest joy and our greatest trial. Terri and I have raised eight wonderful kids. Only the last one to leave the nest ever gave us any grief, and so I am beginning to understand why lions eat their young.
I used to think the challenge was to keep this last child on the path. Then, at some point I realized the real challenge wasn’t about the child at all, it was about keeping myself on the path. The challenge was to be kind and loving to someone who was neither; it was to feel the Spirit before, during and after the screaming; it was to sincerely pray in family prayers while there is snickering and snorting and derision during the prayer; it is to be who Christ intends for me to be regardless of what another mortal does – especially one in my home.
To my thinking, this is the greater challenge of rebellious children. They have their agency, and they must use it. Even God won’t infringe on agency. We can teach, instruct and give consequences, but when they decide to rebel, their agency has trumped our parental authority. The greater tragedy would be if we became enduringly angry, sad, defeated or resentful, and thereby drove the Holy Spirit from our lives, severed ourselves from our blessings, failed in our life’s mission, and followed them out of the straightway, rather than they following us into it. This is the greater mission, to keep ourselves worthy of the covenants that bind ourselves to them. Then, when the great day comes that none shall be lost, we will send angels to them just as to Alma the Younger, and they will decide one last time. Until then, I choose the peace that surpasses the understanding of man which Christ gives to those who love Him even more than the mortals who surround us.
Today I have my dear friend Joshua here for Conference, so we are off to sight-see and then to indulge in Conference for two days.
God bless you my family in Christ,