A short time ago I was asked to substitute in Primary, for the teacher of the five-year-olds. Our lesson would be about the First Vision and the Restoration.
I was thrilled to be asked to teach this critically important subject and couldn’t wait to impart my joy and testimony of it to these precious little children.
And so I did. Using posters and leaning forward, I explained the whole story, and just as I told them about the incredibly white light that rested upon Joseph, and the two Heavenly Beings that appeared in it, one little boy leaned forward with excitement in his eyes and said, “I can do a round house kick!”
Another little boy, sensing that this was the ideal moment to share, blurted, “I had a piñata at my birthday party!”
I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head. I was tempted to ask if anyone—anyone at all—was on task. It was comical to realize that here I was, teaching the restoration of the priesthood— the second most important event in history, surpassed only by Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection—and these little cherubs were on another planet entirely.
It was so pure and innocent that I could only respond with great enthusiasm for their marvelous achievements, and then try to steer the conversation back to the lesson. Later I shared the moment with my family and we all got a great laugh out of these two little tykes’ timing.
But later I thought about it again, and realized, maybe I’m like those five-year-olds. Heavenly Father is trying to steer us all in the right direction, to teach us saving truths, but are we really listening?
It’s like watching General Conference in your living room, and in the middle of a leader’s talk, noticing someone’s socks on the floor and asking whose they are.
How many times have you caught yourself during Sacrament meeting, thinking about a sale that starts Monday, a new computer app, your next vacation, getting an appointment with the hairdresser, a new car it would be cool to have, work-related issues, finances, an upcoming ballgame, a new recipe you can’t wait to try? Sure, by the time we’re grownups we realize it’s not good form to blurt these thoughts out loud, but if we’re still thinking them, we’re just like those five-year-olds.
How many times does the Spirit whisper to us to speak up and share the gospel with someone at the supermarket and our mental response is to stare into the dairy case and think, “Whoa—buy one, get one free?”
Have you ever had a message to go to the temple ricochet off your brain because you were driving along and someone cut you off and infuriated you? Will you ever even know?
Do we wonder how someone we Home Teach or Visit Teach is, but then drift off into thoughts about that evening’s TV entertainment?
Does Heavenly Father look at us and think to Himself, “Is anyone here—anyone at all—on task?” Imagine the level of patience He must have.
I look at the mundane thoughts that zip through my brain on any given day. Most of them are about doing good things—errands that must be run, work that must be completed—but could it be that Heavenly Father is trying to break through the white noise and give me grander thoughts and bigger ideas? Am I blurting out that I can make homemade macaroni and cheese just as He’s about to give me greater light and knowledge? Is a side dish my round house kick? My piñata?
As is usually the case, I learned much more in that Primary class than I taught. And it has given me new perspective. I want to pay better attention. There are great lessons I haven’t learned yet, and this field trip isn’t over. I don’t want to be the endearing student who, bless her heart, just can’t manage to stay on task (and whose inability provides amusement for those on the other side). I want to be the one who clears away extraneous concerns and truly focuses when God wants to teach me something.
Part of it means I need to clear my schedule and allow for some open channel time when my brain isn’t crammed full of “to-do” items. And part of it is to adjust what excites me, and make life more about saving souls than saving a few cents on a load of bread. If temple work and missionary moments become my priority– become the things that thrill me most– then those will direct my thoughts, and I’ll be where the Lord needs me to be at teaching moments.
Course correction: Do more temple work and missionary work so I’ll love it more. Give more service. Find and help the less fortunate. Look outside my neighborhood to the global world of need and address it as best I can.
A good bit of homework, but a whole lot more fulfilling than a round house kick or a piñata. I want to be so much more than just five.
Cruise with Joni and her husband, Bob, to Spain, Italy, and France May 12-19, 2012.
>>> If you reserve a cabin for two before June 19th, at only $250, you earn spending money on the ship: Balconies receive $150, inside cabins receive $75!! <<<<
Call Nicki Larsen to book your spot: (916) 481-7826 or visit jonihilton.com.