"Behold Your Little Ones"
Updated: Dec 22, 2019
I've been spending more one-on-one time with my children lately, hiking. I wanted to do something with them that also shared a part of myself. I wanted to be able to use my strengths to help them. For me, being in nature, meditating, learning how to really talk to my Heavenly Father and tune in to my spirit to find clarity and peace inside is key in this very loud world. I find that when I wake them up early in the morning to have this one-on-one time, it creates a very special bond that is easy to forget about when you have multiple children that all collectively need you each day. This new activity has allowed me to spend time really tuning in to what the individual child needs as I also listen to what they pray and feel that they need for themselves.
Each time I take one of them out, we talk about the plan for their life, all the possibilities in store for them, where their interests currently lie, and what they are curious about. We make silly jokes, play games, dream about the future, and in the end, we find somewhere comfortable to sit and pray.
I tell them they can pray aloud or in their head, and I remind them that after praying, they need to be still and listen. This is the part of prayer that I didn't understand until I was an adult. I always heard that we should "pray and ponder", but I didn't connect the meaning until I realized that pondering was just another way to say meditate. If they are struggling to "hear anything", I remind them not to try to think of anything, but just to empty their mind, listen to the sounds of nature, be patient, and wait. If no answers do come, it is okay to just sit and feel peace. Sometimes answers come later in moments we don't expect. But often, there will be something, some kind of clarity about something, as long as we stay still long enough.
I have experienced this now with my daughter who is 9, my son who is 6, and my other son who is 4. It is never too early to start teaching them these skills, because the most important thing they can learn in life is to be true to themselves, their spirits. They won't know how to do that if they don't learn to listen in a quiet space. The coolest part about all of this, as you pray together, even though you are saying your own prayers, is that when inspiration hits, you will find that the clarity you both received matches up perfectly.
For example, my daughter received a prompting that she should be singing and dancing. Before we stopped to pray she had been talking about dinosaurs, (her latest obsession) and how she wanted to be a scientist among so many other things. And it took a while to really settle and listen. I had to remind her to keep her eyes closed until she felt something, to really listen to the sounds around her and empty her mind. She suddenly looked up at me with the biggest smile on her face, and when she told me, I knew she felt light and joy. It was surprising to me still though, because my husband and I know she has a natural ability for this, music and dance, and she often questions her abilities, feels a lot of insecurity, and fights us on doing these things because of that. For my part, I had been praying while she was, about what I could do specifically for her, and I remembered a tumbling gym I had taken her to before to try out. I felt strongly that I should bring her back there. When we told each other the things we had felt, they meshed perfectly together, and I knew they were inspired.
I also had a similar experience when I took my older son out for our little expedition. He is so book smart and has the quirkiest little personality. He has always wanted to be an engineer, and he is also my most quiet one that you really have to take time to listen to if you want to hear him. He really cherished the time together, just me and him, and when we prayed together, I knew that something we had talked about for a while, creating a YouTube channel for him to post about all the things he builds, was the next step specifically for him. He has been so excited setting it up, and I have been surprised at how many different ideas he has for this new project.
My youngest is my little fireball. He has so much energy that I often find it hard to keep up, but in this space together, I see him as having the most fun-loving spirit. I feel the simple inspiration to make more things into a game with him, that we will enjoy each other more if I do this.
These little things might seem unimportant, but every little step of learning in our lives leads us to our destiny. I cannot believe sometimes how blessed I am to be able to share life with these little souls, to help them find their paths, to have them be such an integral part of mine.
It has really hit me lately how great a calling it is, to care for these little ones. You just look into their eyes and see how much they trust you, and really they have so much to teach us too. I ache for the children of the world who aren't shown their value, even sometimes for my own because of all the things I am lacking, but especially for those who may never know it in this life. I don't know why life seems so unfair sometimes, but I know there is an ultimate plan for all of us, that this life is a small speck in an unfathomably eternal journey.
I cried this last week when I read scripture passages from 3 Nephi about Jesus visiting with the children in the Americas. He reminded everyone just how cherished they should really be. I was reminded personally to let my voice be as the one in 3 Nephi 11:3, soft but meaningful, powerful, thoughtful. I noticed that Christ repeats Himself twice when in verses 37 and 38, He tells us to "become as a little child". I realized that I should be paying so much more attention to my children throughout the day when they usually get tuned out, in order to learn more about these special attributes they possess. And, wow. Chapter 17 really touches me; how pure and close to God little children are, how precious they truly are, and how we can be so blind to it, how much that is taken for granted.
3 Nephi 17:21-24 says,
22 And when he had done this he wept again;
23 And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
24 And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them."
Can you imagine the beauty and purity of that moment? I often feel the stress of being a parent, and this is such a powerful reminder of the sacred calling that it really is. The things they do when they are upset, and we are upset, are dealt with in a much different way when we have this perspective in mind. The things our children do when they are happy are seen for the beauty that they hold as well...
And now, I have a call to action.
The children of the world, your children, my children, the neighbor kid down the street, the one halfway around the world, they need us. We are all really children ourselves, but the youngest, most vulnerable ones that have so much to teach us, and cannot protect themselves, need our help. Teach them to be still enough to hear their spirit, to know what's right for them. Teach them to follow this voice inside when others don't understand. Teach them to be strong and true to themselves. They will need this skill throughout their whole life. Show them that they are loved no matter what by loving everyone around you, even when it's hard to do, even when those around you do something you don't like. Love them anyways, especially when it makes you uncomfortable. This is what these precious children will see, and this is how they will learn unconditional love, that their choices can lead to happiness or sadness, but their choices do not define them. Remember that they imitate what they see. They act according to what they feel around them. We need to watch ourselves the most when they are struggling. Reevaluate priorities. Take time to heal ourselves in order to heal them. Take time to teach and take time to learn. For everything we can teach these children of the world, our children, there is also something to be learned. These children are the most precious treasure on the earth. Treasure them. Be still enough, observe them enough, to learn something. There is so much to learn. Remember to be curious, to be playful, to slow down. Remember what is actually important in this life. Love above everything else. Have faith that things will work out, that tomorrow will be a better day, that you can turn any day around. Say yes to more of the things that light you up, that enrich your spirit. Look into the eyes of these children when they speak to you. There is so much to see, to learn. When they are happy, or when they are upset, look into their eyes to see what they feel, what they need. Look into their eyes, and feel all the love contained in this tiny being in front of you. Look at the way they look at you, the way they believe in you, and Rise. Up.