Ever since April General Conference, I have been mulling over David A. Bednar's talk The Tender Mercies of the Lord. There is so much to say about the topic that I don't know if I'll be able to keep all of my thoughts straight, but here goes...
Just the other day, I was telling Joel how I knew Heavenly Father loved me. He was surprised by the reason: I know Heavenly Father loves me because my voice lesson canceled today. Of course this would seem odd to anyone at first. Why not an answer like, "He loves me because I have such beautiful children, " or "He loves me because of all of the financial blessings we have received lately." Let me explain...
I have been teaching voice lessons for about 8 years. In the past, I have had up to 20 students at a time, and now I only have one. Yet, my Father in Heaven knows exactly how many I can handle at a given point in my life and that is the amount of students I always have, through no doing of my own. When I got called to be Relief Society President I had 6 students. I was just starting to build up my studio here in Arizona. As soon as I received the calling, 4 of them quit lessons for various reasons. Now I am down to one. That is all I can handle, and I know that. More importantly, the Lord knows that. That is a tender mercy. In my terms and conditions it is very clearly stated that if a student cancels a lesson with less than 24 hours notice, I am not obligated to make it up and they will still have to pay for it regardless of my decision. If I, as the teacher, cancel a lesson, I am obligated to either make it up or refund the tuition for that lesson. It is obviously not very good business sense for me to cancel any lessons. Another tender mercy is the fact that if I am having a particularly hard day and it happens to be on a day when I have to teach, inevitably the student will cancel. This has happened three times in the last month (which hasn't been an easy one). That means that my ordinarily very responsible one student has missed 3 out of 4 lessons this month. I couldn't have handled teaching on those days. I know Heavenly Father knew that, and he loves me enough to take that extra burden from me. There were times when I was pregnant with Chloe that every single student canceled in a day. I don't believe it was coincidence. Because I know that Heavenly Father said, "Lara is too sick. Today her body cannot take the extra pressure of those 4 lessons. She needs to rest." And knowing that I wouldn't cancel them myself (remember my good business sense), he went ahead and canceled them for me. Yes, I know my Heavenly Father loves me.
It is such a simple thing, really. And that is what Elder Bednar talks about...small things that have great meaning to us personally. He mentions three separate times that it is the Lord's timing that helps us to recognize His tender mercies. How true that is. If a student cancels on a day when things are just rosy I am actually annoyed. But when someone cancels on a day that I can't cope with anything, I know that someone is looking out for my best interest.
So how am I doing at showing tender mercies to my own children? Most definitely not as well as the Lord does for us. But it is something I've been thinking about and something that needs to be improved in my life.
One experience stands out in my mind where I can honestly say I did show tender mercy to my child. Bria was 3 years old and Chloe was around a year old. Bria was doing something with her toys...building something or arranging something to be just a certain way. Chloe really wanted to do what Bria was doing and kept ruining the masterpiece. Bria began to get frustrated and upset at her sister. My first reaction was to make her share and play nicely with her sibling, but an interesting thing stopped me from doing that...
...Suddenly, I remembered way back to when I was 3 years old myself. I was building a castle on the coffee table with my blocks. My younger brother David, who was around a year old, kept knocking it down. I was so upset because I couldn't remember just how it had been before, and right when I thought I had it figured out he would mess it all up again. All of the emotions I felt so many years before came rushing back to me and I realized that was exactly how Bria was feeling right then. I decided that as noble as it is to teach my children to share, it wasn't necessary all the time! Instead I found something else for Chloe to do and let Bria happily finish building whatever it was that she was building.
That is what tender mercies from the Lord are. He knows just what we are feeling and what we need, and he loves us enough to give it to us. At that moment, I knew with perfect clarity how Bria felt, because I had felt that way once, too. Yet, now that I think of it, perhaps it was a tender mercy of the Lord that I even had that memory pop into my head. It isn't something I'd thought of in many years, but it was there in my psyche, and I do remember it.
So that is what I'd like to work on as a mother right now. I don't want to be Mrs. Justice all of the time, and I am realizing that I don't have to be. Being Mrs. Mercy is just as important in growing children who are emotionally healthy and happy. And I know that I am shown mercy much more often than I deserve it.
My Heavenly Father loves me.