Sunday, July 19, 2009

If ye do what I say, ye shall get Dollar Tree

Hey. This is Ryan. Let's be honest. Church for parents with young children can be, to the say the least, a less-than-spiritual experience. We're busy trying to "teach" the children to be reverent when, in fact, we're probably more disruptive by hissing directives throughout the entire hour-long service. Case in point, Luke likes to be selective with the bread in the sacrament tray. That means he touches every piece of bread until he finds the biggest one. This led me to quietly whisper, "Luke! They are all Jesus' body, so just pick one and eat it!"

That did not compute in his four-year-old brain. "Jesus' body? Gross!" he must have thought because he promptly stuck his tongue out complete with chewed bread and plopped the remains on the pew. That did not fly with me as I had personally vaccumed the chapel, pews and all, the day before. It put me in a pretty foul mood.

But, despite the mood, something happened that Sunday that hadn't happened for almost nine years - I felt the Spirit at church. And it happened in Young Men's class, no less. I am blessed to be a part of a young men's organization with awesome boys and even better leaders. My presidency consists of great men who know the meaning of service. To put it plainly, we care about the boys' spiritual, mental and physical growth. Here's the epiphany, though. As the Young Men's secretary gave his lesson, I glanced around at the boys. They were participating, listening and actually learning stuff about the Gospel. What he was teaching was this - that if God is our Father in Heaven, then it's not far off to imagine that he would want the same things that our fathers here on Earth would want from us: obedience.

I thought about my role as a father. What makes me the happiest with my kids? When they do something without me asking. What prompted that thought was that Ally and Luke had done something completely out of character earlier that week: they had performed some small task without being asked to do it. Luke had taken out all the trashes and Ally had straightened up her room without being prompted by Lish or me. It had made us feel so good about our children. We wanted to reward them somehow. I personally wanted to shower them with candy and dimes (a hot commodity at our house). Instead we went to Dollar Tree where they got to pick out one item.

That's where the epiphany and parallel to our Heavenly Father came from. Do you think if we do something good in life without thoughts of being rewarded that He is as happy as I was? I like to think He is. I hope I do good things without thinking, "Man, You better be watching and taking notes!" It kind of defeats the purpose.

So, that was my epiphany. I shared it with the boys in class and they all seemed to agree. At least, I think the blank stares and strained head bobs meant they agreed. Or they were just tolerating my ramblings. Anyway, what's your take on my epiphany? Had an epiphany of your own whilst at church despite fighting a dirty hand picking for the biggest pieces of sacrament? Comment away, friends!


Anonymous said...

OK, the 1st paragraph is totally us at church...minus Denver. He gets to witness our actions from the stand. Anyways, I'm so grateful for your post, because I had this same epiphany two days ago. Our 2nd, Westin, made his two brothers beds for them while they were outside playing. Not only that, but he also laid out on their beds special notes and gifts that he had made for them. All of this without being promted by me. The feeling I had inside was amazing! Thanks for your thoughts. And who knows Ryan, maybe heaven has it's own Dollar Tree to reward you with :) ha ha


Tandee said...

First, I have to say that I love the main photo on your blog. It's adorable. Second, I love your epiphany. Isn't it nice to see your kids making right choices without being coerced?? It makes me feel like sometimes they HAVE learned something! And maybe Heavenly Father realizes that I take a while to learn, too.

Sandi said...

Still waiting for the Spirit in Church. Even when my daughter is in Nursery my mind is so cluttered that I can't think about what I'm supposed to.

CindyKinser said...

I am having a mid-life crisis ~ ok, so it's at 57; I plan to live till 114. I have been reading this blog and I'm wondering how all that 'sacrifice' sitting with kids, the not-getting-anything-out-of-the-meeting-but-that's-ok-because-it-will-all-be-worth-it-when-they-grow-up experiences is working for me. By all accounts, it isn't if you look where my children chose to go. That would be NOT to churh. 4 out of 4. Pretty bad, eh? (maybe it was the cheerios instead of capt'n crunch. should have considered the long term effects of dry oat-flavored vs sweet melt-in-the-mouth morsels) ANYHOW, what is my ephiphany? I have no clue. I sit in Sacrament meeting looking around at all the children and wonder what happened to mine. No missionary fare-wells or home-comings, no temple marriages, no baby blessings. Oh wait, I don't have any grandchildren yet. Ok, strike that one. The 'train them up in the way they should go' scripture I would like to be my favorite. I'm right there with my pom-poms and smiles to all families struggling with little ones at church. I see the 'and when they are old, they shall not depart from it' scenario come to pass for most. But just for one day, I'd like to know how that feels. In the meantime ~ (that space of time right before 'and it came to pass') some Sundays I will continue to choke back the tears and feel envy all the while I am delighted to watch the rythm of LDS life unfold before me and vicariously share in the joy of all the 'it was worth it' scenarios of others. Do I have bad children? Not at all. They are gloriously delightful, loving, fun, thoughtful and kind and authentic. Maybe that should be my epiphany. The realization that the Lord's hand has been in their life and still is. And that my journey is not the typical, just-do-this and you-shall-reap-that. Or, maybe since this is my mid-life crisis at 57, I still have until I'm 114 to see my children 'not depart' from their early teachings. I'm still pretty clueless. But I keep a pocket in my heart where my 'desire to believe' is tightly tucked away and protected even against the storms of my crisis.

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