Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stay on the Path

(find the talk here)

Sister Wixom, the Primary General President, gave a talk that hits close to home for me, with young children of my own. I am always concerned with how I am going to teach my children about the gospel. How will I teach them of Heavenly Father’s love for them? How can I teach them about the plan of Salvation? How can I help them learn about our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His love for us?

How will they know,
the ones for whom we care,
That God is Love,
and with us everywhere.
That life is good,
with blessings all can share?
How will they know
unless we teach them so?

How will they learn
that, though they go astray,
God will forgive
and help them find the way?
How will they feel
the Spirit day by day?
How will they know
unless we teach them so?

How will they grow
in wisdom and delight?
How will they choose
to follow what is right?
How can they trust
the future will be bright?
How will they know
unless we show them?

How will they live
when they at last are gown?
What will they give
to children of their own?
Will they reflect
the values we have shown?
How will they know
as on through life they go?
How will they know
unless we strive to teach them so?

That song has always been very poignant for me. I cry every time I hear it – if not the whole way through, then especially when I hear the words “How will they live when they at last are grown? What will they give to children of their own?” More than anything, I want to my children to be able to give their children a testimony of the gospel and a safe and happy home. It is so much harder for them to give those things to their children if I have not given it to them.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am so devoted to being a foster parent. I hope that maybe by caring for those children, I can teach them that “God is Love” and that “life is good” and that “God will forgive.”

A few quotes from Sister Wixom’s talk that stuck out to me:

“For children all over the world, we say, ‘Take my hand. Hold on tight. we will stay on the path together back to our Heavenly Father.’”

I add my voice to Sister Wixom’s and have made it my goal to say to every child I know who may need a hand to hold, “Take my hand, hold on tight, I will help you.” As members of Christ’s church, we have a responsibility to take care of all of God’s children. We can’t raise other people’s children, but we can be a good example. We can show other people’s children what a good family looks like, what standards look like, what faith in God looks like. We can open our home to our children’s friends, we can invite other families over, we can spend time with other families with children and set an example. We have a sacred responsibility to do so.

“We can stop, kneel down, and look into their eyes and feel of their innate desire to follow the Savior. Take hold of their hands. Walk with them. It is our chance to anchor them on the path of faith.”

I feel this way every time I see a child, and especially when I see adults “judging” children or assigning ulterior motives to their young children’s actions. I want to scream, “Those children want to follow the Savior!” and then kneel down next to those sweet, innocent children, take their face in my hands and tell them of their Heavenly Father’s plan for them.

“No child needs to walk the path alone so long as we speak freely to our children of the plan of salvation.”

This reminds me of Elder Bednar’s talk in April General Conference where he spoke about sharing “testimony spontaneously with their children...” I have tried to increase this in my own life with my own children, and it seems to have amazing results. Just last night, after we sang Jesus Num Presépio (Away in a Manger), our three year old, V, hopped down to the floor and said “We’ve got to say a prayer now!” He knew that it was time for family prayer, and he is so excited to pray and talk to Heavenly Father, and be a good example to his little sister. We talk about prayer all the time, and I try to bear testimony spontaneously of being kind to his sister, being a good example, being obedient, and choosing the right. It is working.

“We begin to make the plan known to our children when we hold tight to the iron rod ourselves.”

Obviously we cannot lift others any higher than we are ourselves. And we cannot lead our children along a path that we ourselves do not follow.

“They will follow our cadence when they feel secure in our actions. We do not need to be perfect – just honest and sincere.”

That could not be more true. Children can feel our sincerity. They know if we believe what we are saying. I also love that she reminds us that we do not need to be perfect. Sometimes we feel like we cannot teach our children the gospel effectively because we are not perfect – but isn’t that such a great thing to teach our children? That we can be imperfect, but God loves us anyway? I think the same logic holds true with any parenting issues – we don’t always have to be perfect, but if we let our children know that we care about them and that we are trying to learn how to be the best parents we can be, the response will be wonderful.

And I’ll just leave you with this quote and my testimony:

“The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning all the world will teach them at a very young age. What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today. Teach them in every circumstance; let every dilemma, every consequence, every trial that they may face provide an opportunity to teach them how to hold on to gospel truths.”

I know that as we try to be sincere we can raise our children to stay on the path. As we try to live the gospel and show our children the way to walk – as we testify to them of their divinity and of the Savior’s love for them, they will walk with us.

Do you take hold of your children’s hands daily and walk with them on the path of righteousness? What things do you do with your children to keep them on the straight and narrow path?

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