Last week I watched the beautiful daughter of one of my dearest friends. This sweet little thing has been a gift in my life in so many ways so our family was enthusiastic to welcome her into our fold for several days. Throughout the week, I watched her closely for any signs of missing her parents, feeling distress at the separation or other indicators that she may be questioning her well-being. But her darling smiles and happy play made it clear that she was comfortable in our home. During one of our evening conversations, I expressed to my friend that her parenting must’ve instilled in her daughter a trust that she would be well-cared for, listened to and watched over because she expected as much from us and received it without batting an eye. I found so much beauty in the work that had been done to assure this child that she was cherished and important because I recognize that represents a lot of intentional parenting.
Several days later I was relating this story to another friend as we watched this same babe jump with enthusiasm into our neighborhood pool. She mentioned that it was an interesting observation to consider given the scriptural admonition to “become as a child.” My usual interpretation of that scripture leaves me feeling a bit powerless and desperate to cultivate that kind of “submissive humility” that seems to be desired by the author. As I looked at it with fresh eyes, though, I felt the beauty of that new meaning wash over me. Perhaps that’s what divine parenting can look like, a simple trust and regard built over time with experiences and mutual exchanges, to the point that eventually the mortal child can rest assured that heaven hasn’t forgotten him/her, despite physical and sometimes spiritual distance. Remembering that the Savior is the same yesterday, today and forever, and knowing Him to love me dearly and care for me exquisitely at times in my life, this interpretation didn’t seem so far off.