Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the book The Soft-Spoken Parent: The Top 10 Strategies to Turn Away Wrath.
I once read a story about an older woman who went to the grocery store and bought just a few items almost every day. The clerks wondered about this. Why didn’t she buy groceries for a week? Why did she come in every day and buy just a few items?
Click to Buy
They couldn’t figure out the answer, so one of the clerks determined to ask the woman. Next day, when the lady was ready to check out, the clerk asked, “Ma’am, why is it that you shop every day and buy just a few items?”
The woman sighed, “I’m a widow. I live with my nephew – and I hate his guts. When I die, I don’t intend to leave him any groceries!”
That is a good example of small-minded thinking. We humans tend to keep score and we make sure that we don’t bless anyone we don’t like. Notice that this mind-set puts us in God’s place. We decide each person’s merit and we decide their reward.
But we’re not very good Gods. God knows everything and loves perfectly. We do not. So we do a very poor job of playing God every time we try.
The Way God Acts
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17, emphasis added). He came to rescue us. His whole purpose is redemptive. It appears that he only allows us to suffer as much as is necessary to teach and purify us.
Some of us have more regard for suffering than He does. We assume that making children suffer will help them learn. In my view, that is dangerous thinking. God begs, even commands, us humans to stay out of the judging and punishing business (Mormon 8:20). He commands us to love one another as He has loved us.
And He loves us redemptively. He suffered all things in order to rescue us. That is the way we should love. What a lofty standard!
Following His Example
Good parents want their children to learn the lessons of life. And the message of experience and research is clear: People learn best when they feel loved – when we see them redemptively.
I enjoy the story of a sweet six-year-old girl named Marcie who was confined to the hospital for a serious lung disorder. Despite her sickness she charmed the staff with her good cheer. During her hospital stay, one of her baby teeth fell out. She put it under the pillow hoping that the tooth fairy could find her at the hospital. The night nurse was assigned to take the tooth and slip a dollar bill under her pillow. Because she loved little Marcie so much, she determined to put two dollars under her pillow when she took the tooth.
But it wasn’t easy to find the chance to get the tooth. In the course of the evening there were various therapists, aides, and nurses who looked in on Marcie. But finally she found the right moment and slipped the money under the pillow.
The next morning the head nurse asked how it went. The nurse observed that it had been a busy evening but she had done her job. The head nurse replied: “It must have been busy. This morning there was $12 under her pillow!”
That is grace! While I’m not sure that $12 is a reasonable price for a baby tooth, I applaud the spirit of graciousness that motivated the generosity.
God recommends that we exercise influence “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41). We should influence as He influences, love as He loves, and bless as He blesses. We should think redemptively!
Stay tuned for another strategy next week. Or purchase the book, The Soft-Spoken Parent: More than 50 Strategies to Turn Away Wrath (which just arrived at bookstores from the printers!) by visiting your local LDS bookseller or by clicking here.