We discussed in Family Home Evening this week the recent Conference talk on 'Patience" by President Dieter Uchtdof. Particularly how it applies not only to the every-day, waiting-at-the-check-out kind of patience, but rather how it applies to each of us as we work our way toward perfection. We commented that many people are burdened by feelings of inadequacy and a lack of belief in themselves, making it especially hard to keep going in the face of our repeated failures to accomplish perfection now.
Now, I am a big believer in the need for us to stop worrying about self-esteem issues, and concentrate instead on putting others first, (I know - a big no-no in the mind set of our times). Somehow, coming from your basically unhappy, broken home, I seem to have emerged nonetheless with a firm belief in myself and everyone around me. I'm sure my mother had a lot to do with that. But I am slowly understanding that all sorts of worthy, wonderful people don't feel at all about themselves that way.
So I wanted to pass on a thought that our family talked about:
Babies, children, toddlers are wonderful. They try and try and fall or fail and try again until they 'get it' - eventually, they will walk, talk, toilet themselves, say 'Mummy, I love you', even learn to ride a bike, swim across the pool, and read by themselves. Eventually, their toes will touch the floor while they are sitting on the pew in church; their fingers will eventually reach the doorknob, the top of the doorway, (and sometimes, in the case of teenage boys straining to be picked for the basketball team), the ceiling. These things will, in the normal course of life, always be achieved, as surely as a 10 kilo snack of chocolate is going to show on the scales. Babies don't ever ponder the possibility of failure. It just never seems to occur to them. So they keep trying, until they do advance; achieve; succeed. And we take their eventual success just as much for granted; we also believe that their destiny is to be successful. (Except for the universal proviso of young mums who sometimes wonder if their child will ever sleep through, or ever be toilet-trained, or stop wetting the bed. They will :)
To look at a baby or a small child, it could seem incredible that they will be able to accomplish so many intricate, fabulous things one day. Except that we know what is possible, and probable, because we have already managed it ourselves. How sad it would be to ever see a baby just give up on trying - to walk, or talk, or feed themselves, knowing as we do the progress that would have occurred if they had continued their efforts.
I wonder if that is the way that Heavenly Father looks at us. He sees us fall over, again and again, and I think that His response probably mirrors our response to our own children: a warm and vitally interested desire to encourage and support, and a feeling of overwhelming love for the child, walking or not; successful or, not just yet. Perhaps He loves us in the same way that we love our babies, even when they can't do anything much yet. Perhaps He smiles understandingly, as we occasionally do, when the baby who is learning to sit up, puddles over onto their side, or sometimes falls flat on their face, or even when one throws a tantrum. Maybe it really doesn't bother Him that much that it takes us a while to learn what we need to - since He knows that eventually, with His help, we will, inevitably, succeed - if we will likewise disreguard all notions of failure.
I remember with a lot of loving humour the picture of our oldest daughter, Tammy, learning to play her first piano piece for a beginner's exam. She sat at our piano each day, plonking out the few notes, trying over and over again to play the tune, before throwing her hands to her eyes and crying, with real anguish, "I can't do it, I just can't do it! I'll NEVER be able to learn this - it's too hard!." Fast forward to her seventeenth year, to the exceptionally difficult and lovely music pieces she practised each day then, in preparation for her Diploma of Music exam. How wonderful it was to hear her filling our home with such beautiful melodies.
How wonderful to know that our stumbling, faltering, and sometimes emotionally hysterical attempts now to sound a tune, will one day, most certainly, if we 'continue in patience', become performances of great beauty too.