“And a little child shall lead them…”
Let’s face it, Sunday parenting is not easy. I have early memories of conversations over Sabbath afternoon mashed potatoes and roast beef that went something like this:
Dad, who sat on the stand and participated as a member of the bishopric much of his life, would say, “Wasn’t sacrament meeting wonderful today. I learned so much. I was so inspired by ‘Brother So-And -So’s talk.”
Mother, who Sunday after Sunday sat part time in the congregation striving to maintain the reverence of her seven children, and the rest of the time in the foyer wrestling with a baby, would look at him like he must have just fallen out of the tree, sigh, and respond with something about wondering if they had even been to the same meeting.
I think it must have been just such a day when my Grandson “T” and his little brother were sent to their room directly after church for some quiet time, due to their less than stellar behavior during sacrament meeting. With the two of them quarantined and the baby asleep in the room next door, the parents envisioned a little Day of Rest kind of peace, but it was not to be had. Instead of sitting soberly in their room, inventorying their irreverent behavior at church, and making plans to turn over a new leaf, the loud horse play continued. Imagine that!!!
With the very real threat that the baby might not sleep through the shenanigans (the bouncing on the bunk-beds, wrestling—stuff that comes so naturally to two boys under eight) my son-in-law asked them to please settle down. He tried to encourage them toward quiet obedience several times. After issuing multiple warnings and feeling inspired by the “reproving betimes with sharpness” verse of scripture, he laid down the law with a bigger bark and walked out in frustration. Just the regular Sunday afternoon drama—nothing most of us have not experienced as kids and as parents of children of a certain age.
Finally the Sunday afternoon Family Drama gave way to quiet, and the two boys took advantage of the “time out” to do some thinking and a little creating. With some comprehension of the error of their own ways, along with certainty that their “Father of the Year” had taken a tumble from his pedestal, they set to work. After a few minutes of unprecedented solitude the older of the two sheepishly crept out of the bedroom and requested some tape. He had created a message he wanted to attach to the door, in plain sight.
Sometime while no one was looking he taped the following humble little note firmly to the outside of his bedroom/reformatory door.
My daughter photographed the note and posted it. As I read the note the words, “And a little child shall lead them,” came to mind.
As we struggle to make things right with others there is rarely a clear-cut line between repentance and forgiveness. My daughter writes, “It’s amazing to me how quickly kids forgive and forget, but also how quickly they apologize. My son knew he needed to apologize, but he also knew he needed to forgive.” Imagine being five years old and having such a clear picture of what is necessary in order to make things right with another person. It would take a thousand “grown-up” words to express T’s eleven word sermon. There’s no sense putting my finger prints all over his perfect message, but while I stared at this humble little note I was reminded that the Lord can use eleven words in multiple ways.
As I read T’s invitation to his daddy, I heard the Savior’s words to me, “Nannette, this is also the sign on My door. “ ‘Sorry, Nannette. Sorry that life is difficult. I have felt your pains. I know your worries. I know your desire to grow and change. Turn the handle and take the “steps” that bring you to Me. ‘You can come in so I can forgive you.’”