As I mentioned in my last blog post, my seven-year-old son has now started playing football. The intensity of the competition by the coaches and the parents is a whole new world to me. At the age of seven, the coaches and the parents care more about winning than whether the kids learn the rules and skills needed to play. This fact was driven home to me when the coach came up to my wife during my son’s practice the day before his first game and said he was filling out a medical waiver so that my son did not have to play the mandatory 10 plays. The coach was “worried” my son was not aggressive enough and he might get hurt.
When my wife got home and told me what the coach had done, I was furious. The coach did not care about my son getting hurt. He cared that my son was the youngest and one of the smallest on the team. The coach did not want to play him the mandatory 10 plays so that the team would have a better shot at winning (even though they still got pulverized).
After I had calmed down and decided it was best not to confront the coach or be a helicopter parent, I realized that this was a good learning moment for my son. Sometimes life is not fair, everyone does not play by the rules, and we have to learn to deal with adversity to make us better. We have to learn that sometimes in life we may not be the biggest or the strongest, but we can work hard, strive to become better and overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.
I am sure this is how our Heavenly Father also feels at times. He watches his earthly children bully each other, hate each other, fight each other, and oppress each other. There are numerous times that Heavenly Father wants to step in. He wants to stop his children who are treating his other children unfairly and with hatred. Just as I wanted to call the coach and tell him how much his overzealous need to win hurts my son, Heavenly Father wants to tell his children how their overzealous striving for money, power, and fame is hurting his other children.
Yet, Heavenly Father knows that were he to step in every time that one of his children cared more about money, power, and fame than their brothers and sisters, his faithful children would be deprived of the opportunity to learn and grow. If each time his overzealous children got out of line, He appeared to them and told them to stop it, then He would be depriving his faithful children of learning opportunities. He would deprive his children of the opportunity to go through trials, tribulations, and suffering so that they might learn how to love and care for others, how to endure to the end, and how to become as He is.
Elder Hales provide great insight on the learning that occurs as we face trials in the October 2011 general conference, when he shared:
I am sure our Heavenly Father wants nothing more than to step in and shield his innocent children from the suffering and hardships caused by his prideful, self-centered children. Yet, our Heavenly Father knows that with each trial, tribulation, and hardship, it gives us an opportunity to grow. As we grow and learn, we become more like our Heavenly Father. That growth and learning make all the times that our Heavenly Father must reframe from “calling out the coach” worth it as his faithful children become more like Him and are able to return back to Him.
As parents, each of us must stop stepping in each time our children face something hard or unfair. Rather, we must provide our children the opportunity to grow and be there to support them and listen to them as they face the hardships in life that make them stronger.