I have always heard that question as a sort of trivia question. I always knew the right answer, so I just answered correctly, and went on. But today I realized the question is about how we FEEL. There is no right answer! So today this thought was heavy on my mind: Perhaps I know better, but am I feeling like the cares and concerns of this life are all that matter? Am I thinking about the larger picture at all? Do I feel my own eternal spirit inside me, ancient and yearning for growth? Do I see it in my children?
Last night I put my kids to bed. I read them stories, I told them a scripture story, I prayed with them, and then I got ready to leave. Kaylee was feeling insecure and asked me to stay a little longer. I was tired, but I agreed, having a feeling she was only asking for what she needed. She asked if we could sing a song together. ''I Know That My Savior Loves Me." As we sang together, our voices blending, and our hearts open, we looked into each other's eyes. We felt the spirit of that beautiful song. I saw her singing with all her heart, as a testimony of her true belief and hope. I admired her simple yet undying faith. Her spirit seemed to rise and take comfort in those meaningful words.
Deepak Chopra, in his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents:
"I was the daddy, and they were the kids. But there have been other, rarer moments when the whole facade fell away. I've seen my son give me a glance that said, 'Here we are again. What an interesting game we're playing this time.' I've seen my daughter smile in such a way that I just knew she was on the verge of laughing out loud at the masks we have put on to keep our roles alive.
"In those precious glances and smiles I felt the bond of innocence, which is more powerful than love because it transcends love. Instead of just being here as a unit with its own private triumphs and failures, every family is a communion of souls. What we have in common isn't where we live...We are sailing the seas of immortality together--that is the real bond. When you can see past the role playing and still act your role with love and dedication, then I believe you are truly spiritual in your approach to parenting."
He also explains, "I don't look upon spiritual law as optional--this is how the universe works as it unfolds from pure, unmanifest Being to the infinite variety of the created world." How true that is! This is not some gimmick to try, or some parenting tricks to use on your kids to get them to obey. When we understand ourselves and our families in context of our spiritual roles, our lives and the part that we play comes into the correct perspective. We, and all our associations begin to change at the core.
If you feel mortal and occasionally seek some spiritual uplift, you are not alone. I have been the same way. But to live in the Spirit is to feel immortal and understand that for the moment we must care for mortal things. The two perspectives are actually opposite.
Chopra, pg. 154 " Parents are used to being the authority figures. As such, we are above and beyond our children--smarter, more powerful, more experienced, in command of money and property. From this position of authority, parents have been able to pass judgement, to inflict punishment, to lay down rules of right and wrong, and to do so with a clear sense of duty and purpose.
"This book has outlined a different duty and purpose. In this...vision, a parent isn't an authority. You and your child are both souls; you are both embarked on the journey of soul-making. The only difference is the roles you have chosen. All souls are immortal; they cannot be created or destroyed. But we choose temporary roles to play.
"The most good you can do for yourself spiritually is to play your role as parent with total love, conviction, and purpose...This role will uplift and inspire you more than any other. The same is true for your child...your child has decided to be a weak, vulnerable infant...And yet both of you, if you strip away the role playing, are pure souls, equal as one. Innocence enables you to see this, to play the role yet go beyond it."
As I write this, I know there are going to be many who read this and fight against this notion. I know there will be some who will be offended at their authority being challenged. I get that. I feel it too a little. When I abdicate authority to God, I become I child too. We, my children and me, become siblings of our Father in Heaven, striving together to become what He wants us to be. Then my efforts to teach them become acts of Charity, not assertion of my authority. I of myself have no authority, I am only acting in His name.
These are the thoughts that are coming to me, I feel, as answer to many prayers, in order to help me along this process of a change of heart and soul.
Step ONE: Become my child's equal, and lead out from compassion, not pride, fear, anxiety, or selfish desire.
"All men [women and children] are created equal."
"God is no respecter of persons."
Pride is the trap easiest to fall into.
When I think of my children as immortal and eternal souls, equal to myself, the fight goes out of me. The anger, the frustration and the need to control dissipates, while love, acceptance, wonder and innocence slip reverently in.
Thomas S. Monson quoted in October 2001: "Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, expressed the profound philosophy: “The family is the building block of society. It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure center, a place of refuge and a place of rest. It encompasses the whole of the society. It fashions our beliefs; it is the preparation for the rest of our life.”
Monson continues: "There will be calm and wind, sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth. The thoughts we think, the deeds we do, the lives we live influence not only the success of our earthly journey; they mark the way to our eternal goals."
1Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the atemple of God, and thebSpirit of God dwelleth cin you?
I add,...and in your children? The powerful spirit I saw in my daughter can never be forgotten. It is as though I saw God himself coming to the surface of my daughter's face. I have never seen anything so beautiful, so wonderful, and so magnificent. I have never realized my own deep horror at the thought of meeting God face to face in my sinful state. I remember with tears that moment, such beauty that I could not fully look upon it. It is truly beyond words.
All young children possess the capacity to reflect God himself because they are without sin. Find it in a young child, and you too will never be the same.
Lying Softly tell me gently, whisper lightly, ever kindly.Listen to my story young one. You have uttered, I have wondered. Wandering I'm searching for the innocence you sweetly plunder.Oh can you understand my hunger for the love I see you offer. Can you feel my longing for the joy I see that shines inside you?My one--true love---my dear, small child.'Come let me show how to dance in the winter and laugh at the clouds how they're changing the weather and see how the sun's brightly shining for you mother, and see how the grass gently blows in the summer!'How can a one so innocent and pure ever know a thing of this cruel world?Light surrounds you, smiles abound you, wonder crowds you, beauty found you!Joy is here! Pick it up! And understand the love of God.Joy is here! Place it in your heart. And understand, the Joy of Love!Joy is here! Pick it up! And you will understand the Joy of God! God is Love!