Why Lions Eat Their Young

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,

Brother John

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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9 Responses to Why Lions Eat Their Young

  1. My Personal Diary says:

    One day while driving home from the Temple with my visting teacher, she listened quietly as I told her about my wayward children.This sweet sister thought about my problem for a moment then she smiled and said, you know what your problem is don’t you?

    She said, ” You’ve been trying to drive their bus for them, but you can’t, because everybody has to drive their own bus in this life.”

    As I contemplated her statement my first thought was, ” Well, they’re sure doing a lousey job trying to find their way in life, so I guess I’ll just have to be a backseat driver.

    I felt I had the experience they needed. I knew which roads had the deep ruts, I knew the roads that had the broken or missing bridges. I would help them travel safely.

    The problem is, “No body likes a backseat driver,” and I knew if I attempted it I would most likely find myself in the very back of their bus, so they wouldn’t have to listen to me.

    I soon came to the conclusion that the only position on their bus that could benefit them is that of the navigator, and that would only come by invitation.

    As difficult as it is at times, I’m trying to let them drive their own bus.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jennifer McClure says:

    I don’t comment much…I always read your post on my iPhone so I can’t (or haven’t figured it out yet). I actually look forward to your posts everyday 🙂 Thanks!


  3. cami gygi says:

    What a wonderful post. Over the years my trials have most always been family related. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home where people hurt one another and “sorry” or “forgive me” were never used. Anger and hurt were the norm. Most of us have broken that cycle but there are a few that are still struggling. Recently one sibling stripped our 75 year old mother of her financial security. As a result she lost her home. My other siblings and I have watched her suffer tremendously and have done all that we could to ease her burdens. When reaching out to our brother to work out a solution he refused. He doesn’t even acknowledge our mother and demonstrates no remorse. It would appear that he wants us all to sweep this all under the rug and forget about it. I have struggled with this behavior. I cannot ignore what he has done and acting as if all is well is very unhealthy for my soul. It also sends a message that what he has done is acceptable. The “elephant in the room” must be addressed in order for us to move forward in a healthy manner. Repentance is the key to forgiveness. I can forgive him, but I do not trust him in my life right now. So I wait for him to work thru it himself. While trying to purify my spirit about this matter I had a unique experience. I envisioned the Savior handing me staffs of wheat. When I asked what this gift meant it came to me that this represented the wheat from the wheat and the tares parable. I learned I had been removed from this tare – my brother. This was powerful for me. In the parable when the tares begin growing with the wheat the workers ask the master if they should pull up the tares. The master tells them not to pull up the tares because in doing so you would also lose some of the wheat. Sometimes we have to live with the tares in our life. If we cut them off we may lose our way. We must learn patience, charity, humility, long-suffering etc… Think of all of the attributes we might lose out on learning if it weren’t for the tares in our life. This could be one of the reasons Lehi and Nephi endured Laman and Lemuel I have suffered greatly from this one brother over the course of my life. Eventually, if the tares never change and continue to hurt and destroy others there will come a time of separation. When the wheat is ready, when we have learned what we needed to learn then we will be separated. I have come to learn that the pain caused of having this brother out of my life hurts less right now than having him in my life. Right now the separation is a good thing. It may change someday, but for now I have peace. Eventually, Laman and Lemuel had to be separated from Nephi, but only after much suffering and much learning. I hope this will help someone else understand why we have the tares in our life and that it all works for our good. God bless you in your journey.


  4. Good Steve says:

    This reminds me so much of my experience with my oldest, who is now on his mission. He’s always been a good kid, but we also butted heads like you wouldn’t believe, I think because we’re so much alike (not that he’d ever admit it). Folks would comment on how polite or sweet or well mannered he was, and my response became, “You should try living with him.” We started reacting to each other according to how we THOUGHT the other was going to behave to him, not according to the actual behavior. Once I recognized this and told him what was happening, he chose not to hear me, and the fighting continued. I believe Satan was doing his best to escalate the anger between us. It was so frustrating. I think a lot of it could have been him having growing pains; becoming his own man…I don’t know. I know I’m not blameless in all of it. Now that he’s out on his mission, we’re getting along better than we ever have. I hope we can keep it going after begets back; it’s what I will be praying and working for.


  5. Debra Hale says:

    “BECOMING”. means change and who offers more opportunity for change than our children. I have learned to “BECOME” compassionate, forgivinging, patient tolerant and accepting as well as persevering. These are the Christ~like attributes we came to learn. Thank You my children.


  6. KC says:

    Brother John, I hear your words deep in my soul. I Speak as a mother who has lost a child due to an overdose of drugs. I then watched as all of my other children struggled to one degree or another with addictions as they acted out, mourning this loss, pulling away from God and from the gospel, placing themselves in mortal danger.

    They were all taught the Lords Gospel, we prayed together as a family, we read the scriptures, we attended church together as a family. Still one by one they all wondered down misty side paths. Oh ,how I beat myself up. I tried to control, I tried begging, I tried pleading.

    Finally, down on my hands and knees, heart broken, I turned the situation and my precious children over to the Lord. In return he gave to me a beautiful insight. Father knows my children, they are his children. He trusted me enough to place them in my care here on Earth. I am to love them no matter what and continue to be a steady example to them, a stability. We have valuable lessons to teach each other. As much as they have learned from me, I know I have learned far more from them. They are beautiful, strong willed, intelligent sons and daughters of God. I have learned to trust the Lords hand in all things, and that without him we could accomplish nothing. These sorrows and tests have become blessings in disguise. I am finally after years of sorrows, beginning to see miracles happening. I fear not, they will not be lost!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Racquel Richardson says:

    thank you John! I love this post. It was just 2 weeks ago that the spirit told me I needed to learn to love my children when they are being rebellious. Wonderful words!


  8. Cheryl Dilworth says:

    Hi John,
    Our ward Relief Society has a book club and the book for April is called “I Dared to Call Him Father”. It is the miraculous story of a high ranking Muslin woman encounter with God. The MusIim woman’s name is Bilquis Sheikh. I have cut and pasted in this comment from a Google Search on her name–

    Madame Bilquis Sheikh

    Madame Bilquis Sheikh came from a family in Pakistan which held governmental power for 700 years! It was after her father was Cabinet Minister and her husband’s term as Minister of the Interior that she became born again in 1966. Her simple trust in God was displayed by calling Him ‘Father’ which became the title of her book “I Dared to Call Him Father” first published in 1978.

    The phrase comes from an answer God gave her when she asked Him which holy book she should read, the Koran (Q’uran) or the Bible. His response was to read the one that referred to Him as Father! She followed His direction which resulted in her family’s attempt to kill her. In 1968 she spoke at a Billy Graham meeting in 1968 while he was in Singapore.

    Then in 1973 she moved to the United States.She returned to Pakistan in 1989 following a heart attack where she remained until 1997 when she fell asleep. She lies buried in an old Christian graveyard in the Himalayan Mountains.

    The epitaph on her tombstone reads;

    “Bilquis Born 12-12-12 Died 9-4-97 Loving the Lord“

    The reason I am emailing you about the book is her great experience of always seeking to have “His presence” with her from being obedient to His will. Her story reminded me constantly of your testimony of obedience and always having His Spirit with you. I was so awed by Heavenly Father and the Savior’s great love for all his children.

    I know your “plate” is full, but I wanted to share this book with you.

    With best regards
    Cheryl Hatch Dilworth formerly of Kooskia

    PS I heard from friends from Kooskia, that Ann, your mother, had a fall—I hope she is on the mend. My love to her.


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