Today, I excitedly wrote down my goals. I decided I would write more, exercise longer, eat healthier. However, by 12 PM, I have accomplished nothing but feeding the baby and keeping him company. The meals I prepared were left untouched, the scripture block I prepared unnoticed, and the workout I intended to do was ignored. Needless to say, I became frustrated. What can I do when I don’t have my own time anymore? Immediately, I turned and looked at my sleeping child. He was firmly holding my fingers, satisfied and peaceful. Then it dawned on me that this child is helping me develop Christ-like attributes.
Taking care of a child has its ups and downs. They can bring you immeasurable joy and indescribable headaches. Bringing up children teaches us patience. Patience to ignore the mess in the house so you can make sure the child feels loved. Patience to endure the longing for company. Patience to understand their unspoken demands. The patience needed to understand. My little Eli also helps me learn patience in a different way. At a young age, my boy shows me his way of being patient through his actions. There is wisdom in Christ’s invitation to be like little children.
Myra tells how her children help her develop love. “These kids are so pure. Even in the simplest ways, my kids show me that they love me. From cooking me simple meals to making me cards, they never fail to make me realize that it is in the little things that we can find love.” It’s amazing how a child slowly awakens special feelings of love in one’s heart. Having Eli in our lives has also helped my husband and I understand the attribute of love in our lives.
One mother shared how her child has helped her develop a deeper faith and trust in the Lord. She said, “I remember the first time Jacob fell sick. We were very worried that time and we did not know what to do at all. During that time, my husband and I pleaded a little more to the Lord about what to do. We put our trust in him that everything would be well for our baby. Having Jacob and having new sets of trials as parents truly strengthened our faith and testimony that the Lord is mindful of His children.” Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual. When difficult times come, you learn to turn to the Lord and put your trust in Him.
“It seems like it’s second nature. When you have your child, you immediately give up some of the things that you love. You give all of your time, attention and effort to your child. It’s a new kind of love,” says Toni, a mother of a 5 month-old baby. Accepting a child in your life entails sacrifice. Gradually, you become more selfless. The feelings of your children, their happiness, come first. My father is one of the most selfless people I know. Growing up, he never worried about what he needed. He just made sure our needs were met first. He is my example of sacrifice.
I remember a few weeks after giving birth, I looked disheveled because of catering to Eli’s every need. My friend, Jade, said something that stuck with me until now. “Children are indeed a way for you to earn your PhD in Christ-like attributes.” And she’s right. The words of Jean A. Stevens still echo in my mind. She said
“If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth.” (Become As A Little Child, April 2011 General Conference)
Develop Christlike Attributes With Children
Let us be grateful for the little ones we hold in our arms. They are the Lord’s instruments to help remind us everyday what qualities we should aspire to: qualities that we see in our little children. May we always be reminded of our eternal goals through the help of our little ones.