I was reading my scriptures a couple days ago and come across a famous scripture mastery (Mosiah 3:19). At the end of the scripture it says we need to put off the natural man and "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love..." I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Not because I don't want to be submissive or meek or humble or patient or full of love, but because all of these attribute apparently exist in children...they exist in my little toddler, Andrew. They exist in my little baby, Hailey. And I thought "hmmm...I don't know if submissive is a word I would use to describe Andrew...children are submissive? Especially to their parents?" and "Hailey is supposed to be patient? Children are patient?"
I decided for the past couple of days to really observe my children and see how each of these attributes exist in each of them, and what I can learn from them. I've also pondering and studying this principle the past couple of days and now I better understand what it is this scripture is saying. I've been amazed at what my children have taught me.
Let's start with Andrew:
I think there is nothing more "natural man" than a toddler who still can't fully express himself, yet has a lot of emotions that he needs to get out. I think he's been getting frustrated that he understands a lot, but can't say a lot. It's like a missionary who can understand the foreign language of his mission, but can't yet communicate back to his investigators--how frustrating would that be!
But here is what I've learned from Andrew. He is the most forgiving child I've ever met. He never holds a grudge against me for taking away a toy, or a grudge against Hailey for accidentally scratching him with her little nails. Sure, he throws an impressive tantrum at first, but it's not like he is mad at me for the rest of the day, and he doesn't lash out at Hailey for an accident. After he's over it, he's over it and moves on. How often have I held a grudge? Yes, I can be more like my little boy and forgive and move on.
He is incredibly meek and humble. He is very willing to learn, and loves reading books with me. He points to things in his book and I say what those things are, and he is willing to recognize that he has things to learn and is eager to work on them with me. How often to I think I don't have anything more to learn? Am I as humble as I need to be--especially when the Lord is trying to teach me something?
Andrew is also full of love and has the gift of empathy. If Hailey is crying, he is usually the first one to respond by running over and putting her binky in her mouth. If I'm clipping my finger nails, he comes over and starts yelling at me because he things it hurts me (he hates having his nails clipped). Am I full of love and do I try to empathize with those around me?
Next is Hailey:
Hailey smiles at everyone! She is a very social baby and is not stranger shy. She can brighten anyone's day by smiling at them. How often do I look people in the eye, smile, and say hi? Can I be nicer to strangers around me?
She wants to look at either me or Grant as she's falling asleep and cries out for someone when she first gets up. Girl cannot fall asleep on her own yet. As long as she can see either me or Grant, she will fall asleep. Of course, all babies cry for someone when they first wake up. How often do I make sure that I check in with my Heavenly Father before I go to sleep? When I say my prayers in the morning, do I cry out to Him and depend on Him, or do I forget to rely on him and go about my day without him by my side?
Children come with their challenges--Andrew throws tantrums over small things (like any normal toddler), and if Hailey is mad she will most definitely make sure you hear about it (like any normal baby). But I've noticed that I've been happier and more patient with my children as I've tried to learn from them and noticed the positive qualities that they possess.
When you become a parent, you think about all the things you need and want to teach your children, but don't forget about all the things they can teach you. You'll be surprised at what you find :)