Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Three thoughts on humility from the bathtub

1. I had often heard, particularly from Pres. Boyd K. Packer, that being a father would teach me a lot about God. (e.g. "Much of what I know that really matters I have learned from being a father" and "being a father of a family gives you opportunities to learn to govern with love and patience.") I had imagined that as a father, I would feel for Hyrum what God feels for me, and so come to find Him in me more.

That was not quite right. I've found more and more that what I learn about God comes from finding Hy in myself and realizing how God sees me. In many ways, I'm still an infant and a toddler (Is that Hyrum in another 7 months on the right?). I worry what I'll find out about myself when Hy is a teenager.

2. Hyrum asks for many things. He will ask for many more as time goes on. We want him to ask us, and we have invested a lot of time in teaching him how to ask. It's only beginning. No matter how accommodating we try to be to his requests, though, we end up saying "no" or "later" or substituting something else we know he needs more and try to get him interested in it as well.

God spends a lot of time trying to teach us to come to Him for help and to ask for what we want. He really wants us to ask. What we ask for isn't always feasible, "expedient" (ie - not a good time), or good for us. So He says "no" or "later" or tries to get us interested in something else.

Hyrum tops a lot of us in how he responds to such treatment. Hyrum lets us know he is disappointed in our choices, but really doesn't throw fits very often. He doesn't try to get even with us; he doesn't try to make us miserable. He submits (to me anyway) tolerably well most of the time.

So many of us respond by getting angry at God. 'This was really, really important to me and God didn't do what I wanted, so I'm going to stop going to church or stop saying my prayers or do something else to get back at Him."

So many of us respond by what would be delusionary if Hyrum did it: Hy has never said, "Mom and Dad didn't give me my truck when I asked for it, so they don't exist."

It takes humility to see somthing in the world that we think isn't right - that our definition of a just, merciful God wouldn't allow - and to respond, "I guess I don't understand God as well as I thought. Lord, help my unbelief." They are opportunities to know Him better.

3. That in turn got me thinking about Mosiah 3:19, which says that we, as fallen or "natural" men and women, are enemies to God unless we become as a child. The first, dare I say natural, reaction is to say "say, what?" Then we draw an invisible semantic point that being childlike is not the same thing as being childish, the one being equated with everything good about children and the other all the negatives.

Hyrum doesn't know the difference, though. He's just a child: both childlike and childish. ... and so am I. And with that thought, I saw two new possibilities:

3.1. God looks at the good and the bad and chooses to mention and bring to our notice the good. My confidence increased that He sees us the same and tries to bring out that good in us. That was how Pres. Hinckley spoke about the youth all the time and is how Pres. Monson speaks of them now. Emphasizing the good brings it out and overpowers the bad.

3.2. The good that God mentions being in children is that they are humble. Specifically, the natural man must yield, and become as a child: "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Maybe that's the most important good. If you've got that - if you're willing to submit to anything God does with/to/for/at you - He can take care of the rest. And if I can't learn to submit the way Hyrum does to me, there's precious little that can be done with me, no matter what other skills I have.

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