Oooh, I'm totally late posting this. My only excuse is that it is Spring Break and clearly my brain knows it.
So I'm participating in this LDS Writer Blogfest which means I'll be writing another post about our General Conference. Sorry if you're conferenced out, but read on.
When I was twenty-three, just after my husband and I graduated from the BYU, we found out I was pregnant. We were very excited because this fit in nicely with our plans of when we wanted to start a family. My husband was about to start law school in Cleveland, Ohio, which meant a move across the country, but no big deal. I had a teaching degree so I knew it would be super easy to find a job in another state. And then once the baby came, well...
We didn't really think that far ahead to consider what we'd do.
Sadly, we didn't have to because I miscarried a few weeks later before we even moved to Cleveland.
And then I miscarried again a year and a half later.
And again a couple years later after we'd moved to California.
But then we finally did have a successful pregnancy. And by successful I mean one in which I threw up at least three times a day for six months, yet still managed to balloon to the size of a blimp before going through four days of induced labor until my doctor finally performed a C-section.
It's not really how I had imagined things would go before I got pregnant. But when I held my daughter for the first time, I decided to stop being mad at God for the miscarriages and start being grateful he knew better than me when I should actually have children.
Letting go of control is a lesson I have to learn over and over. I'm kinda slow when it comes to that one. Which is why Heavenly Father sent me that first baby and why he made me wait for her.
She doesn't like to be told what to do. I remember trying to nurse her one day thinking I knew for sure she needed to eat. But she wouldn't do it. I was so frustrated with her until I got the very clear impression that I would not be able to control this child Heavenly Father had sent me.
I have to remind myself of that moment A LOT. Especially now that baby is eleven and almost as big as me. I can't pick her up and put her in time out or back in bed or anywhere else I want her to go. I can't force her out the door to school, I can't threaten to spank her if she's naughty.
I don't have control over her. I can give her a consequence if she breaks a rule, but I can't make her follow the rules.
Which is a real struggle for me. So Elder Wilson's talk Only Upon the Principles of Righteousness was a good reminder of that first moment of inspiration I had eleven years ago as I tried to make my too full daughter eat. Especially this part:
This scripture says we must lead by “principles of righteousness.” Such principles apply to all leaders in the Church as well as to all fathers and mothers in their homes.3 We lose our right to the Lord’s Spirit and to whatever authority we have from God when we exercise control over another person in an unrighteous manner.4 We may think such methods are for the good of the one being “controlled.” But anytime we try to compel someone to righteousness who can and should be exercising his or her own moral agency, we are acting unrighteously. When setting firm limits for another person is in order, those limits should always be administered with loving patience and in a way that teaches eternal principles.
We simply cannot force others to do the right thing. The scriptures make it clear that this is not God’s way. Compulsion builds resentment. It conveys mistrust, and it makes people feel incompetent. Learning opportunities are lost when controlling persons pridefully assume they have all the right answers for others. The scriptures say that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men” to engage in this “unrighteous dominion,”5 so we should be aware that it’s an easy trap to fall into. Women too may exercise unrighteous dominion, though the scriptures identify the problem especially with men.
Unrighteous dominion is often accompanied by constant criticism and the withholding of approval or love. Those on the receiving end feel they can never please such leaders or parents and that they always fall short. Wise parents must weigh when children are ready to begin exercising their own agency in a particular area of their lives. But if parents hold on to all decision-making power and see it as their “right,” they severely limit the growth and development of their children.
Yep. That's what I'll be working on.
Here are a few more blogs to hop to if you want some other Conference insights.Amanda Sowards
Julie Coulter Bellon
Krista Van Dolzer