SOS: What is our Father like?
Some time ago, I shared a moment with a friend who asked me why it is so hard to choose the right sometimes. I answered that if it weren’t hard, we wouldn’t have very much compassion for anyone else who is struggling. I remembered and shared a part from this talk, perhaps my favorite talk about the nature of our Heavenly Father.
When I first heard this talk, I couldn’t help but weep to hear this description:
“I bear personal witness this day of a personal, living God, who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit. I testify that amidst the wondrously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns. We are created in His very image and likeness, 16and Jesus of Nazareth, His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, came to earth as the perfect mortal manifestation of His grandeur. In addition to the witness of the ancients we also have the modern miracle of Palmyra, the appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son, the Savior of the world, to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. I testify of that appearance, and in the words of that prophet I, too, declare: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but … the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.” 17
“I bear witness of a God who has such shoulders.”
I, too, know that Heavenly Father loves us, that He knows us individually as His children, that He yearns to help us feel his love and to help us become stronger, happier, wiser, kinder, smarter, more capable, and more fulfilled. I know that He is always available to listen to us as long as we need and want to talk, and that He always sees the good in us. He is always ready to lift us and hold our hand while we travel our path in life.
Sometimes we might think of God being mad at us for creating problems, but I learned a powerful lesson about Heavenly Father when I was a young mother. Lane was giving a priesthood blessing to one of our daughters at the advent a new school year. This young child was very busy, very active, going/doing/creating at a rate faster than I could ever keep up. I felt challenged by the resulting messes or circumstances and felt frequently frustrated by her innocent behavior. In this blessing, Lane said to her, calling her by name, “Heavenly Father is never mad at you.”
I felt at once humbled, instructed, and inspired. I knew two things in that moment: that Heavenly Father wanted me to better comprehend the patience He has with each of his children, and that He could help me improve.
That experience has remained in my mind as I have interacted with my children over the years. I wish I could say that I changed instantaneously and have ever been perfectly patient with my children. Nope. I have learned that change can come slowly as we keep trying to be better. And that when we try and fail, He is still there ready with hands outstretched to encourage us to get up and try again.
On this Father’s Day, I can’t help but thank my husband for helping me to learn more about the nature of God than perhaps anyone else in my life. Lane never gets mad at me. He never complains about what I do or don’t do as a wife or mother. He praises me, encourages me, believes in me, supports me, loves me, and treats me like a daughter of God.
I literally pray for my daughters to marry men like him and for my sons to be husbands like him.
I’m grateful, as well, for my father, who has loved me from my birth, who helped me to pray and took me to church and baptized me, who cheered for me at softball and soccer games, who provided so many opportunities for me, who has shared his love of reading aloud to children, beautiful music, supporting the arts, foreign languages, good food, hard work, laughter, and who has encouraged me in all of my educational and vocational pursuits. And he loves and encourages my children–his grandchildren, as well. He is so proud of them and tells them so. I am SO grateful for those gifts!
I’m grateful for my step-father, who has also loved me since my mom married him, who gave me the chance to raise a lamb, who provided so many opportunities for me, who gave me so many priesthood blessings and encouraged me in gospel living, who shared his love of books, outdoors, family, fun, missionary work, hard work, good food, and more than anything else, who loved my mother with such a great love that I knew what to look for in a future husband. I feel his help in my life even now that he has moved from this life beyond the veil. It has been a comfort to me since his passing.
What a great day to be grateful for Heavenly Father and the fathers in our lives who have blessed us so much.
Happy Father’s Day,