My toddler has started something new lately.
If she gets into something, or destroys something, or yanks her little sister’s binky out of her mouth for the millionth time in a day, I will respond with the typical “No, we don’t do that,” or “Ahh! Stop!” or “uh uh…”
And now she has a response. If she knows I am upset with her she will walk over, grab my head to give me a hug, and give an audible “awe..” It’s almost as if she knows she’s stinkin’ cute! And I can’t help but hug her back. But there’s something else unique about her.
And I notice it in all children her age.
I’m a mom, but I’m still learning. Sometimes I get frustrated, annoyed or upset when I should be more patient or understanding. But what I have noticed about children is that they are so forgiving. Even in my moments when I instantly realize that I need to take a deep breath and that I have probably gone about things the wrong way once again, she shows me love.
I’m amazed at how quickly she can go from complete tantrum to smiles and giggles (about one second).
As I studied my scriptures this week, I came upon the verse, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” And I’ve become intrigued with it as I’ve continued to study that one verse.
How do we go from perfect, loving and forgiving toddlers to offended and grudge-holding adults? And when does the change occur?
This week I decided that of all attributes, being merciful is one that I would like to define me. Not just the merciful that responds compassionately to the poor and the needy, but the kind of merciful that gives others the benefit of the doubt. The kind of merciful that responds kindly to unkind words. The kind of merciful that exists in little children.
Maybe my desire to be merciful is the reason why my hero is who he is. Because he is the ultimate example of showing mercy.
For those of you who don’t know, My all-time hero is Joseph.
If you haven’t heard of him, his story is written in the book of Genesis. And I want to be like him one day. Not in the sense of having a colorful coat and siblings that want to throw me in a pit (please no,). Although, I wouldn’t mind being my father’s favorite (jk, jk).
But I want to be able to display that kind of mercy.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, he was a pretty good guy. Because of this, his dad might have favored him a bit. And because of this, his brothers wanted him dead.
Talk about rough.
But one of his brothers in the kindness of his heart, stuck up for him and offered that they sell him as a slave instead. How nice.
And despite being totally shafted by his family, he made the best of his situation. And his boss couldn’t help but like him and make him head servant (or something like that). Unfortunately, his boss’s wife couldn’t help but like him too. A little too much if you know what I mean. But he was honest and faithful, and he didn’t give her the time of day.
So she shafted him too. And got him thrown into prison.
Talk about being dealt a rough hand.
but he made the best of his situation. And he continued to love and serve those around him despite being treated so poorly. And so naturally, he became a favorite with the prisoners as well.
Long story short: Pharoah of Egypt got wind of this guy, and pulled him out of prison. And he couldn’t help but love him as well. So he made him his right hand man. And then Joseph pulled through and saved Egypt from famine, and then his brothers came begging him for food, not knowing (until a few awkward moments later) that the man they were begging for food was their long-lost brother whom they threw in a pit and sold into slavery. How’s that for long story short?
Anyway, Joseph had complete on his brothers and showed them unconditional love. And then there’s like this giant cry fest and Joseph gets to finally see his dad and everyone is weeping (at least that’s how I remember it).
It’s one very dramatic and powerful story and I just can’t get enough of it. Because Joseph is so full of awesomeness wherever he goes, no matter how he is treated.
And although it doesn’t say so exactly, I think he probably had a great attitude. First, because the story is filled with a lot of verses that say something like “the Lord was with him” and the Lord “made all that he did prosper in his hand.” And second, because he was successful wherever he went. The Lord doesn’t usually bless people who hate, or want revenge, or even people who can’t help but dwell on all the bad things that have happened. And success doesn’t usually come to those type of people either. How easy (and justified) would it have been for him to totally hate his brothers and feel hurt and offended by the all the wrong that was done to him in his life?
I can’t even comprehend being sold away from my family, or going to jail for something I didn’t do. So for me, being like Joseph will have to start with baby steps.
Like learning from my toddler to just forgive and forget. And loving my husband even in the moments when we disagree. Or wanting to serve the neighbor who gossips or says something catty.
There is a quote I love, and it goes like this:
there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.
We are not perfect. The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.
Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.
Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I’m grateful to be a mom and have the chance to learn big lessons from little people. I have a lot to learn.
What have you learned from a child recently?