Simple Prayers Answered
|photo credit: motorcycles.about.com|
When Smiley was about two, we lived on a busy road, automobiles and pedestrians. The neighborhood we lived in was scary. Three drug-dealing homes were located directly across the street. The constant pedestrian traffic outside our home was disheartening, dirty, and sad. As a consequence of what was transpiring in the front of our home our family always used the back door; we parked next to the back fence and I often kept the front blinds closed to shield myself and our family from the outside influences. Occasionally we would have visitors stop by. They, of course, used the front door and periodically, one of our little people escaped during our front door visits.
On one such meeting, our little two-year old Smiley went running into the front yard. Slim, the 16 year old, followed him. Smiley ran into the street. Luckily, at that particular moment, there were not any cars on the road. Our 16 year-old simply and easily went after him, scooped him up and brought him back into the house.
I did not think much of the incident until one day when our oldest teenager was struggling with some difficult life choices. At the time, he was not sure his father and I were giving him the straight scoop on life. Our requirements, he felt, were too strict. We kept too tight a leash on him and we asked too much of him. His friends had more freedom. They spent more time doing what they wanted and their parents weren’t around to monitor how they spent their time or what choices they were making. I was very frustrated and completely disheartened. I prayed for strength and direction to know what to say to this child, who obviously needed answers, but for whom the Sunday school answers weren’t going to satisfy. Then the scenario I related above came to mind. I knew what to say.
“Remember when you went running after Smiley because he was in the street and you were calling him and he wouldn’t come?”
“Why did you go and get him?”
“Duh, Mom. He was going to get hurt. He is little.”
“But, Slim, he was happy in the street. He was completely unaware of any dangers. He was happy and you interrupted his happiness and interfered in his plan. Why would you do that?”
(A bit confused) “MOM! He was in the STREET! He could have been hit by a car!”
“I know, but he didn’t care! Why did you?”
“Because I know how the traffic drives on this road! He was in REAL danger!”
“Yes, Slim, you are right. He was in real danger, and you loved him and cared about him enough to remove him from the situation. You have had enough experience that you were aware of things which could cause him harm—–things Smiley was completely unaware of.”
I let that sink a minute. Then, I followed up with this comment:
“Similarly, your father and I have lived long enough, and had enough experience with the road that you are on, that we are aware of dangers and pitfalls, which you do not have any idea even exist. I am sorry you are struggling with the restrictions and guidelines we require of you. But just as you were aware of the REAL danger Smiley was in, your father and I are aware of the REAL danger you are in. We give you these guidelines because we love you and want to keep you safe.”
If I had been a better parent, or a well trained missionary, I may have asked for some commitments right here in the conversation. But this child needed to really ponder the information he had just received. As I saw the information sink into his soul, I was so very grateful for a Father in Heaven who not only answered my prayer, but knew how to answer the frustrations of my son.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Because She is a Mother