I'm going to begin Step 3 this week. Before I do, I wanted to put some thoughts out there.
The other day my son was asking me for a glass of milk and I was stubbornly trying to get him to ask the correct question. At first he of course says something like, "Mom. I don't have any milk!" Of course I'm not going to respond by giving him milk when it's not even a question. Then he changed to "Can I have some milk?" I responded with, "yes," but didn't do anything because he hadn't asked me to do anything specifically. In a way I felt I was being callous because I knew what he was asking me to do but something kept me from doing it. I had to prompt him in the end to say "Will you get me a glass of milk?" or even better, "Please, will you pour me the milk?"
It's just words, really. The concept is the same, are the words that important? After this happened I sat pondering about whether or not I was just being insanely stubborn or if there was a real principle to be taught by being so picky about simple words.
Then I felt the spirit teaching me about how God parents us.
Sometimes when we pray to him, it's not just what we are asking for but how we ask Him for it. He knows what the concept is. He understands what we want and need. But He isn't going to just give us what we want when we throw a fit and say "I don't have this! Why don't I have this? Give it to me now!!!" He wouldn't respond to that any better then I do when my son acts that way.
If we just say "Please can I have it?" It's a little better, but still sometimes we might not get the answer to the prayer yet. It's better manners to say please, but God wants us to figure things out and do our best before He will step in for us. It reminds me of the Brother of Jared figuring out a way to make light in his barges. He doesn't simply tell the Lord. "We have no light. Make it light in there please." He goes and figures out a way. He puts the effort in to hunt down the white stones and then humbly asks the Lord if he could touch the rocks for Him to make the light.
Being respectful is important. Being rude is never a good idea for anyone. But being specific about what we want from the Lord and thinking things through first help us to grow and that's what we are here for. "Will you please pour me the milk?"
It also cheers my heart when my son remembers to say Thank You and I think that's why the Lord really loves it when we show gratitude. It is in those little seemingly insignificant things like an expression of gratitude or a respectful request that warms the heart and makes me want to just give my children a squeeze. Heavenly Father isn't that different.
The General Relief Society Conference was this past Saturday. There was an underlying theme of covenant keeping throughout each talk, and I felt impressed about how to teach my children about the baptismal covenant. The biggest thing that struck me during the conference, however, was the parallel that Linda S. Reeves made about the Provo Tabernacle. This tabernacle was burned recently, and the results were devastating to Provo residents because the tabernacle was an old monument of history and was a cherished landmark. After the fire, however, it was announced that the building would be converted into a beautiful temple! Reeves talked about how sometimes the Lord allows the consuming painful flames to consume us, just as he allowed this tabernacle to be completely gutted by the flames. It is hard and it can feel terrible, but it is not for nothing. Someday after we are tried and tested and given hardships as much as we can possibly bear, we can become more then we imagined before. Our purpose goes beyond the ordinary. I was uplifted by the light at the end of the tunnel presented by this parellel.
But even better was that following her talk, the prophet spoke, and reminded us that when we are feeling utterly abandoned and swallowed up in darkness that all we need to do is pray. He reminded us that the Lord indeed is aware of us at all times and He can give us the strength to endure the hardships we face, and He sends us tender mercies every day to help us get through. All we need to do is pray, and look for the work of His hands in our lives.
I am so happy and excited for this weekend.