I remember when my kids were toddlers. I loved them so much that it hurt. I found it impossible to believe that every other person on the planet did not share my sure knowledge that they were the greatest thing that ever lived. When they were at the park, or at pre-school, or even out on our cul-de-sac and would fall and hurt themselves, or when other kids would be mean to them, my heart would get that deep hurt in the middle of it. I hate that feeling. Standing on the sidelines and letting your kids hurt and experience life’s difficult lessons is not a pleasurable experience for any parent. One thing I have noticed is that this parental experience does not end as they grow up. Not making the team. Not making cheerleader. Not getting into the university that they want. Not getting that part in the play. The list goes on. Kids being mean never really ends either. Words, actions and rumors are hurtful and unfair. When our kids are teenagers we must still sit on the sidelines and hurt right along with them. I often want to take them in my arms and hold them until their hurt, and my hurt, goes away. When children are tiny, parents can find some personal healing by holding and kissing them after rocking them to sleep at night. Unfortunately, just like when they were toddlers, they don’t stay still too long and we parents have to hope that what love they do allow us to give them helps ease life sorrows a little.
I have two teenagers and a soon-to-be eight year old, and I must assume that this parental “sideline heartache” doesn’t end after kids graduate from high school either. I am sure that each time an adult child loses a job, gets divorced, loses a child or gets hurt on any number of life’s sharp edges, that somewhere in this world or the next, there is a mom and or a dad who sits on the sidelines crying and holding their chest right along with them. Point is…being a parent is hard stuff.
I wrote a song once about my mission called HARDEST THING I EVER LOVED TO DO. Two years living with a heart wide open for all I taught the gospel to and those I came to love so much was hard. They fell down. Satan attacked their lives as they neared the waters of baptism. Life was sometimes cruel as they bettered themselves. I hurt with them along the way like i had never hurt before in my life. Some parts of a mission were not fun. All parts were worth it, but some were definitely not fun. While I truly believed a mission was the HARDEST THING I EVER LOVED TO DO up to that point in my life, I now think that raising my own little human beings, my three gifts from God, is truly the HARDEST THING I EVER LOVED TO DO.
Pondering all of this this morning has made me see a bigger picture. Our Heavenly Father too sits on the sidelines as each of us are playing in this school yard called mortality. He hurts as we hurt. He mourns as we mourn. In Mosiah 18:8-10, I love the questions Alma asks those who have given up everything to come into the fold in the waters Of Mormon:
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
Why does this ring true to our hearts? Our Father in Heaven needs us to take care of each other, to love each other, to be there for one another. Why? Because it is a part of the plan that at this time He must stand back and not hold us and kiss us to sleep each night. It is hard for Him I am sure. Jesus Christ experienced all of it for us. Every moment of every one of our lives in Gesthemene. He and the Father know us like no one else. To live the gospel, every whit, with all of the energy that we possess eases the burden of the Father, and surely the Son in Gesthemene. When we help bring the children of the Father back home to Him, we ease the heart of a Heavenly parent. The three missions of the church are set up to do this. What a beautiful plan the Father sustained. What a beautiful plan the Savior has executed. What a beautiful opportunity that we have to be a very important part in the greatest plan ever conceived…”to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), which I am sure is the “HARDEST THING”…our Heavenly Father has…”EVER LOVED TO DO”.
For some reason this reminds me of a song that Matt Lopez and I wrote a few years ago called LET LOVE BE SPOKEN HERE. We can “break the chain” and bring others home to the Father and at the same time find our own way home. May we all kiss and hold our babies every chance that we get. And may we love, serve and comfort our brothers and sisters by living the gospel of Jesus Christ with all the energy in our souls!
- Jason Deere