FFF #30–Raising Children of Light!

Earlier last week, our Primary President used Elder Christensen’s article, Becoming Children of Light from the August 2014 Ensign as her spiritual thought for our presidency meeting.  Elder Christensen said this:

We have been given the light of the gospel through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We know what God expects from us, His beloved children. We have His Spirit to guide and direct us. To become children of light means to reject the power of the adversary and to choose daily to follow the Light of Christ.

The phrase “children of light” describes a people in whom the light of the gospel shines brightly. It describes a people who seek the light and are drawn to that which is virtuous, clean, and pure. There is an expectation that children of light are alert and watchful—not sleeping, in a spiritual sense, when they should be awake (see 2 Nephi 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:5–8). Children of light do not sit passively in darkness; they have the courage to stand up and stand out. When the adversary comes looming, children of light know when to fight back, when to say no, and when to simply walk away.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught:

“Jesus cautioned that Satan desires to sift us like wheat (see Luke 22:31; 3 Nephi 18:18), which means to make us common like all those around us. But Jesus taught that we who follow Him should be precious and unique, ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13) and ‘the light of the world,’ to shine forth to all men (Matthew 5:14, 16; see also 3 Nephi 18:24).

“We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. … We are called to establish the Lord’s standards, not to follow the world’s. Elder John A. Widtsoe declared, ‘We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it]’ [in Conference Report, Apr. 1940, 36].”1

Children of light let their light shine so that others may see their good works and glorify our Father in Heaven (see Matthew 5:16). They “arise and shine forth, that [their] light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5). What does it mean to be a standard to the nations? A standard is a model used in comparative analyses. If we let our light shine, our friends in the world (who have the Light of Christ) will measure their light against what they see in us.

Our primary president then asked us as we teach the children to help them learn and know that they are ‘Children of Light’.  She knows that if they understand who they are and what God expects of them, they will internalize those values and help others to learn of their divine nature and individual worth.

As I pondered her words, I realized that as mothers, teachers, and leaders of children, we cannot teach them to be ‘Children of Light’ if we are not also ‘Children of Light’ or if we do not understand what that means or are able to share that light with our children.  If we are ‘mothers of darkness’ who do not transmit love and light to our children, how will they ever become that?  We must do all that is within our power to become ‘Mothers of Light’ to raise ‘Children of Light’.  Now I realize that Elder Christensen intended all of us to be ‘Children of Light’.  But I wish to distinguish between the mothers and the children because we (as parents and leaders) need to understand our role in developing the personalities and characteristics of our children.  If we want them to treat others with kindness, forgiveness, respect, generosity, etc………we need to be the ones who treat our children (be they the ones we are raising or the ones we are teaching) with kindness, forgiveness, respect, generosity, etc….

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

As I have spoken with several of my ‘mother’ friends, I have realized that as mothers, one of the things we struggle most to do is to make time for our independent spiritual learning.  This is not intended to be judgmental.  I have struggled with this too at various times in my motherhood.  When the children were so young and so close and we had so many little ones, I don’t think I had a complete night’s sleep for about six years straight (maybe 7).  Getting up in the early morning hours was a joke!  (Secret information:  I do not function without sleep—it is really kind of ugly.)  And I wasn’t very good at reading my scriptures regularly.  I was, however, a faithful Ensign reader—every month, several times a week, if not every day—I’d read an article here or there.  It took me several years, but I realized that counted as scripture study.  It just wasn’t the actual four standard works.

When we moved to California, and church was not as spiritually sustaining as it was in Utah, I realized I would have to ‘step up’ my efforts in spiritually nurturing myself or I wasn’t going to be able to sustain my testimony.  You know when the climate changes, you have to adjust the water settings—it is the same thing with your spirituality.  When things in your life change, or the trials increase, sometimes you need to up your efforts to get the spiritual nourishment you need to sustain yourself.  But then, the goal isn’t to sustain, right?  It’s to grow.  That means, increased effort over time.  And things change.

That is life.  So our scriptural feeding isn’t always going to look the same.  It is going to wax and wane with our lives.  The trick is to recognize when things need adjustment, repent, and get yourself back on track.  Honestly evaluate where you are and where you need to be and set some realistic goals to get there.

If you are worried about your abilities and time, consider these words from Elder Christensen:

At times we may consider all that is expected of children of light to be beyond our reach and abilities. Painfully aware of our own shortcomings, we may wonder why anyone would look to us for light and inspiration—particularly when we are in need of such help ourselves. If you ever feel this way, remember that your Heavenly Father knows all about you—your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows perfectly who you are, but He also knows who you can become. And with that knowledge, He has placed you here, now—at the exact place and time in which you can do the most good with the talents and gifts He has given you.

You don’t have to wait until you are perfect before you can be a light to the world. Becoming children of light is a process, much like the process of conversion, which Elder Oaks described as “a profound change of nature.” He explained that we have the gospel of Jesus Christ to help us “become what children of God are supposed to become. This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of … right choices, and from continuing repentance.”
That last sentence in the 1st paragraph:  ‘He has placed you here, now—at the exact place and time in which you can do the most good with the talents and gifts He has given you.’—hit me so hard this week.  I have been having a hard time feeling like I am not making a difference or doing enough (the truth is I am not making a difference in the terms I want to make a difference).  But when I read that sentence, I realized, I am doing what the Lord has asked of me.  I am doing it where the Lord has asked me.  I just want a different assignment.  (Which isn’t really my choice, is it?  Not if I truly want to do what He wants and I am willing to submit my will.  See this post for more information.)  Now I just have to be willing to do it for as LONG as He wants me to.  If I just do what He asks, it will be enough.
Elder Christensen continues:
As children of light, we have the obligation of making this world a holier and happier place for our having lived in it. Heavenly Father relies on our influence to help bring all of His children home to Him. We should become an influence for good wherever we go (see 1 Timothy 4:12).
family 

As we cultivate the Lord’s light by following the promptings of His Spirit, He will use us as instruments to bring about much righteousness. 

As we do what we can to become ‘mothers of light’ we will increase our ability to raise ‘Children of Light’.

Have a  great weekend!

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