Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Children, Repentance, and Oranges

Several years ago, my six year old came to me with a look on his face that we all would recognize as a little boy who had just done something he shouldn't. He held out three quarters in his hand and peered up at me--couldn't even lift his head because of the shame he felt. He didn't say anything, so my inquiry began:

"David, where did you get those quarters?"

"I found 'em."

"You lucky boy! Where did you find them?"

"On the sidewalk."

"On the sidewalk in front of whose house?"

"Just on the sidewalk...(sigh)...okaaaay, I found them in front of Laff's house."

"Well, we better go talk to Laff then and see if they belong to him, don't you think?"

"(Bigger sigh)...Okaaaaay, I found them on Laff's porch."

"Well", I thought, "now we are getting somewhere."

Using my very best parenting skills, and as lovingly as I could, I expressed my appreciation for his honesty. I explained that we NEVER take things from others without asking. I suggested that he return the money and apologize so that he could feel better inside. So, after some coaxing, we walked across the street together and I stood beside him on the porch like a reassuring mother should, giving him encouragement to do the right thing. As we were walking home afterwards, I sensed some relief in my little boy's disposition.

Boy...was I fooled!

Evidently, his entire confession was a fib. He and his five-year-old sister had gone TWO BLOCKS out of their boundaries, stolen ORANGES off of a neighbor's tree, and SOLD them for two dollars and twenty five cents! All but the last three quarters had already made it into his bank.
So, on Sunday afternoon, we took a family walk to ANOTHER porch and went through a similar situation in attempt to make restitution. Because we told them to, the kids apologized to the neighbor for taking oranges without asking and promised not to do it again.

I came home feeling extremely inadequate at my endeavors to teach my children the meaning of true repentance. The thought of my kids growing into juvenile delinquents locked behind bars with orange pulp on their faces haunted me. I felt a tremendous responsibility and wondered if I could possibly prepare them to become honest, law-abiding adults.

At that very moment, the phone rang. It was a member of the Stake Presidency asking me to speak in the upcoming Stake Conference. (For those of you who are not members of my church, Stake Conference is a semi-annual meeting where approximately 500-700 people are in the congregation. No biggie.) My assigned subject?..."TEACHING CHILDREN THE PRINCIPLES OF REPENTANCE, FORGIVENESS, AND LOVE". Do you get the idea that our Heavenly Father knows us personally?

Then, if it wasn't miraculous enough that I was asked to speak on the very subject that consumed my thoughts at the moment, he explained that I would be speaking with a General Authority. "Have you ever heard of C. Max Caldwell", he asked? "Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. That great man was my mission president ten years ago. I have a deep love and respect for him. No one has taught me more on these very principles than he has."
I felt tremendous comfort knowing without a doubt that my Heavenly Father was very aware of the details of my life. He loved me, and He knew how to communicate it in a way that I would recognize with complete certainty, exactly when I needed it. I felt like He was saying, "Colleen, you ARE doing a good job. Keep trying, and I will bless your efforts." I recognize and am grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord in my life. He is a concerned, involved, loving Father and I am His daughter. That's the most important thing I know.

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