"Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me."
In the pre-earth life God designed his plan to give us free agency. We wanted to be able to choose for ourselves which is why we shouted for joy for this plan, given that we would have a Savior who could provide a way for us to be saved from our sins. Satan’s plan was to take away our agency. We would all return home, but we could have no choice in this life. He wanted the glory.
I’ve been pondering this pre-earth life scenario in my mind in terms of parenting. Parenting is interesting. We want our children to choose the right, to be kind, to listen to us when we’re trying to guide and help them. It’s funny though because all too often in trying to help them to become “good” we ultimately want to take away their agency. I find myself doing this all too often. To be particular, I frequently get frustrated and upset with my 4 year olds choices. I want her to act a certain way, and in some cases think “the glory be mine”. I catch myself more worried about her behavior in certain situations, not necessarily because of what she is doing, but because of what others are going to think of me and how I parent. Doesn’t this sound just like Satan?
It can be extremely difficult to let our children make their own choices. We know that some of their choices aren’t right, and try to intervene before they choose incorrectly. But this isn’t our Heavenly Father’s way. His way is agency. His way is individually. His way is with a whole lot of forgiveness, patience, love, and teaching.
I remember talking to a mother in her 40s before I had children. I was explaining to her that I was terrified of having teenagers. I was terrified because I knew I wanted to make all of their choices for them, but I couldn’t. She then gave me this counsel.
I try to remember the song “I am a Child of God”. In the song it says, “lead me, guide me, walk beside me.” That’s what we have to do with parenting. We first lead them. Then we guide them. And as they get older we simply walk beside them.
Oh, how I am grateful for her counsel. I laugh now that my concern was a teenager, when I am already struggling with my four year old. I try too hard to force her to make the right choices. The other night we knelt down to say family prayer with my four year old, two year old and one year old, and my husband asked my four year old to say the prayer to which she quickly, and sassingly, said, “no”. I lost it. She had this sort of attitude of defiance all day and my patience was non-existent at this point. I grabbed her arm and pulled her into her bedroom to “lecture” her. She looked terrified. through tears, she then explained that she didn’t want to say prayer because she didn’t know what to say. I quickly realized my mistake and tried to take the opportunity to teach her. I told her she could take her time. She then began to pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for mommy. please forgive me. help us to sleep good. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Did you see that? She asked for forgiveness. Deep down I was hit with a feeling of, “your turn mom”. I asked her if I could pray. I then said my own prayer and asked for forgiveness for me getting angry, and being mean. Sounds silly right. In wanting my four year old to choose the right, saying a prayer for heaven’s sake, I grabbed her, I yelled at her and I lost control. To be blunt, I acted like Satan. I was trying to force her to do what I wanted in an unloving way.
We do this as parents time and time again. But it’s not our job to force them to do good. It’s our job to lead them, guide them, and walk beside them. It’s our job to slow down, patiently talk to them and try to teach them. It’s our job to give them the tools to be independently successful, and it starts as soon as we have children who are making their own choices. That’s like one year olds guys.
Thinking of the pre-earth life helps me. It helps me to remember that the plan from the very beginning was agency. It helps me to remember for myself and for my children, that when we make a wrong choice, we have a Savior who already atoned for our sins. We have a SAVIOR! We get to repent. We get to try again. We get to be cleansed from whatever sins we have and will make. That’s the beauty of our Heavenly Father’s plan. His plan was to give us agency so that we could CHOOSE him. His plan was to give us agency so that we could grow. And his same plan was to provide a Savior for us when we fall short, and we all do. So let your children fall short. Be there to lead them in the right direction. Be there to guide them and teach them right from wrong. And be there to walk beside them, supporting them when they do fall short, because sometimes they will. Lead them. Guide them. Walk beside them.