by Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Is it weird that I interpreted this talk as a lesson on parenting?
"Free Forever, to Act for Themselves: Parenting 101 - How God parents, and you should too"
How does God parent? He uses AGENCY and CONSEQUENCE
AGENCY- the freedom to act for yourself. One of God's greatest gifts to man. A gift that was given even before the Creation, a gift given because He loves us more than we can comprehend. God knew it would be necessary for us to grow and become like God.
". . .God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, "that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment." It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life's drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were his puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of "puppet master" in God's place."
God allows His children to choose for themselves, and in turn experience the consequences of those choices (good or bad), "that they may know to prize the good".
This is how God parents, and, I believe, how he wants me to parent.
God will not control us. I should not try to control my children. He lets us choose for ourselves. I also need to let my children make their own choices.
I am trying to learn to let go of my freakishly, motherly, controlling tendencies, and let my children make their own choices (good or bad), which also means letting them face the consequences of those choices (also good or bad). Sometimes it is hard for me to let my children make bad choices, and then step aside and let the consequence follow. I tend to want to shield them, protect them. My motherly tendency is to get involved and make everything all better- either removing the consequence all together or making it less painful, but then what is my child learning when I take his/her consequence away? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! No matter how hard it is, I have to back off and let the consequence follow so that they "may taste the bitter" and learn "to prize the good".
I often ponder what it must be like for our Heavenly Father to watch His children (us) make choices. I'm sure just like me, He happily smiles and is bursting with pride whenever we make a good choice. On the other hand, I'm sure it breaks His heart and saddens Him when we choose to go against His commandments. Because He loves us and wants us to grow to become perfect like Him, He will never take our agency away, and He will never remove the consequence. This is all part of His parenting plan.
While reading this talk, I went back and looked at the notes of this talk I took during general conference. My notes look like this:
God will not control us, nor live our lives for us.
God will not make us something we don't choose to become.
We can become what we choose to become.
Acting to repent is a self-will change.
Several times in his talk, Elder Christofferson reminds us that:
"It is God's will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually."
"God will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels nor abandons us. Rather He helps and guides us."
"Divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience."
I too must let my children become what they choose to become. Before they were even born, I of course had hopes and dreams for my children (I think every parent does), but those are just that- MY hopes and dreams not theirs. I must let my children choose their own life, and that at times is scary!
But, the good news- just like Heavenly Father helps His children along the way, I too can help and guide my children along their way, and Heavenly Father will help me.