The other day I was thinking about what parenting would be like if we had more than one child. (In case you’re wondering, this is not something that I anticipate changing any time soon). With just one little one, there is so much we can do to control the environment because it’s only RJ and I that have to shift and bend to accommodate the individual learning of our babe. Our life is joyfully imbued with so much of her developing personality because it can be and we’re excited to travel along whatever paths that growth leads us. It’s kind of beautiful to have so much flexibility as we modify schedules and choices to capitalize on opportunities to teach her to choose good things. But with even one more child in our midst, there would be more requirements firmly in place, more needs to balance and more personalities to assert themselves. There simply couldn’t be as much catering done because our time and patience resources would be more taxed. As would our ability to exert control over the environment and consequences because another person’s agency as well as ideas of fairness would come into play. I was thinking about how important it would be to model and also request patience and understanding. Then I was thinking about how hard it would be to infuse a more hectic and frantic life with those serene ideas. How do you teach children to respect other’s weaknesses or mistakes, especially when those weaknesses or mistakes cause repeated grief? How do you give them a broad context for daily development?
That got me to wondering about Heavenly parenting. Maybe that’s why the second commandment is to love one another. Maybe it’s akin to saying, ‘Please be patient, there is development happening here.’ Each of us is granted the ability to make choices and none of us develop in a vacuum so we’re consequently bumping into each other, sometimes in very inopportune ways. How hard it is to be patient when we’re dealing with our own heartaches and frustrations, let alone having them exacerbated by relational strife. I’ve known very few people who would knowingly inflict such injuries but the blows come none the less. I think maybe His invitation is for us to cultivate some perceiving spiritual space where our souls can take a deep breath and remember the plan. The plan that we chose because we knew it would help us to grow, the plan that allows us and others to learn things on our own, which inherently means growth is going to take a while and could be ugly. The plan that asked Heaven not do do it for us, but to grant us the Savior we would need in order to learn for ourselves and ward off the effects of other people’s choices. Among the first instructions that precious Savior offered on this journey was the invitation to love as we are loved. How does one create or access a few moments of that kind of patient love for self and others?