Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love and Law

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Love and Law, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

My two older children played together beautifully yesterday; it really was a wonderful day. They continued to play together today after church, but something seemed a bit off. At one point I stepped into the room to check on them and asked a specific question to ensure that they were following rules. They assured me that they were, and I asked them to continue to play nicely.

Fast-forward to our bedtime routines. At a time when my daughter was feeling particularly loved, she looked at me and said, "Daddy, we didn't tell you the truth earlier; we were [doing what we weren't supposed to do]."

This situation was the perfect testing opportunity for me. You see, I had reviewed Elder Oaks' talk earlier in the day, and was then presented this application situation. I was in a situation where I was filled with love for my children, and I needed to issue discipline. (I remembered that "discipline" and "disciple" share a common root.)

In answer to the question, "How are anger and wrath evidence of [God's] love?", Elder Oaks' reply included:

God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love. Every parent knows that you can love a child totally and completely while still being creatively angry and disappointed at that child’s self-defeating behavior.

I'm happy that in trying to decide on an appropriate consequence, I didn't feel the least bit angry (as I too often do). I was disappointed, but I remained filled with love. My son, in particular, felt that I no longer loved him when I announced that he would lose half of his eight stuffed animals for the night. I later talked with him and he says that he understands that even though he is being punished, he is still loved.

Of the many incredible things that Elder Oaks shared, perhaps most applicable to me (at this reading) is:

There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of eternity.

I fail to meet my personal expectations far too often. However, I'm grateful that I was prepared to respond appropriately to a teaching opportunity tonight (for both me and my children).

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