by Kathy Penrod
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the Godhead. Meaning, we believe in God, the, Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (Articles of Faith #1) It is our Eternal Father that I wish to address in this post.
Often, we speak of the Savior's gentleness and kindness. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (John 5:19). Christ also teaches that He “…came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38) So, from scripture we learn that our Heavenly Father is much like His Son - or, more accurately, the Son is much like His Father. Our Heavenly Father, with His perfect love, loves us perfectly and seeks happiness for all His children. For all of us. He is the perfect parent.
I am NOT the perfect parent. Not by a long shot. But for all my imperfections, I love my children fiercely. And, I would do all within my power to ensure their happiness.
But being a parent is tough. No question. And, for many like myself, worry comes too easily. I never knew worry and concern when my children were little like I do now for my older children. One difficult experience, with a child of mine, taught me, on a very small scope, about the nature of God.
A while back, one of my adult sons and I had a fairly significant difference of opinion. The issue itself is not important. Suffice it to say, I wanted him to do one thing and he wanted to do another. In the process of trying to convey my opinion I said or did something that deeply wounded my son's tender heart. He, now being able to do his own thing, decided to leave. To move away. He was convinced that I didn't love him. That we, his family, wanted nothing to do with him. He was convinced we wished for his unhappiness and failure.
Oh, how my heart broke.
The issues that seemed so important before were suddenly forgotten. More than anything else, all I wanted, was for him to know - to feel - our love. My love.
How could my son think that I didn't care about him or love him. Didn't he remember all the times I held him, rocking him to sleep? Didn't he remember the times I helped with school projects or took his friends shopping? Couldn't he recall the nights I spent at his bedside when he faced his darkest hours or the joy I shared with him over his successes. Didn’t he know that I remembered every hug, every snuggle, every smile he gave me. I remembered the sweaty, tussled hair sticking to his forehead as he rushed inside to give me a beautiful flower. A weed really, but it was a bouquet to me. I savored those moments of sweet innocence. My heart has not forgotten, how could he? How could he imagine that I didn't care, didn’t love him? I felt helpless. How could I possibly be there for my son, supporting him, helping him, if he didn't even think I loved him?
And that's when Heavenly Father taught me.
Our Heavenly Father treasures us - infinitely more than I treasure my own children. He watches over us during our darkest hours, ready to offer the support we need. He wants us to be happy and shares our joy when we succeed. He knows everything about us. He remembers us from the beginning of time. He is constantly offering us blessings we don't deserve - His arms ever outstretched towards us.
If we don't recognize that love, if we refuse to believe He cares for us, how can He help us? When things go wrong – and we know they will – do we turn from the Heavenly Father that so readily offers His tender love? Will we negate His love for us? Especially when we make mistakes?
For us, this experience with my son took positive turn. After a few months, countless prayers and even more tears, his heart returned to us. His hugs and smiles for his family became as sincere as they had been before. Thankfully, he is now aware of how much we love him.
This lesson has been written on my heart and has a special place there now. Little did I know at the time that my Heavenly Father was preparing me for another trial where it would be crucial for me to remember His love for me. I think that is the challenge for all of us – to remember how much our Heavenly Father, the King of the Universe, the literal Father of our spirits - loves us. Loves you.
Our Father in Heaven gives us glimpses of His love, everyday. We only have to open our eyes. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs include the following verse: (listen to the song on YouTube here)
His love can be seen in all directions!
His infinite peace longs to hold you every second.
From the thorns in His crown to the sunset colored clouds
He'll find a way to say 'I love you.'
(He’ll Find a Way sung by Dallyn Vail Bayles)
I know personally how hard it is to remember that sometimes. We doubt ourselves or we doubt our worth. We may doubt His existence or even his tether to our lives. We may doubt His love. But, the eternal truth is that His love is, simply, always there for us. In the end, He wants us to return to Him. By acknowledging His affection, by believing that He remembers us, we open ourselves up to His help.
Will you see His love today?