What is the Hardest Part of Parenting for Heavenly Father?
The older my children get, the more difficult this parenting shindig becomes. Thank goodness that children come as innocent, perfect little babies who are so easy to love. If they came right away as teenagers, the world would never repopulate. I don’t want to say that teenagers are bad, they are not. The challenge comes when you are dealing with a person who loves you but doesn’t want to admit it, who pushes boundaries to see if you’re serious about them, and who wants independence and freedom, but doesn’t want to jump ship right away. These years can be rough on the growing child so a patient parent who sets firm boundaries is priceless.
When I think of parenting from Heavenly Father’s perspective, I think of a world full of teenagers running around, dismissing His counsel, breaking his rules, getting into fights, and trying to hide the consequences from Him when what they really want is to be loved and recognized. Fortunately for them, He sees all. So many people fight a fruitless battle to be invisible to the eyes of God. Thankfully, He watches with tender loving care and tries repeatedly to draw us back to Him by our own agency.
With the lens of my mortal perspective, I would think that one of the most difficult parts would be knowing that my incredibly loved children were actually hurting themselves in their search for independence. I would have to hold back when I long for nothing more than to sweep them into my arms, put a band-aid on, and show them what would fix their troubles.
Heavenly Father watches His children turn away from Him all the time. They break His rules, dismiss His counsel, and then turn and curse Him for allowing bad things to happen in their lives. Why does He allow us to go on hurting ourselves and others? Because we are here to learn to choose light over darkness, peace over despair, life over death. We must choose Him. He will never force anyone to do this. Our wonderful Father loves every man, woman and child who has ever, or will ever gain a body in this life, but He blesses those who love and honor Him. “And he loveth those who will have him to be their God.” (1 Nephi 17:40)
Like an earthly parent who sets boundaries and enforces consequences for broken rules, our Father has given commandments. When we break them, He absolutely must let the consequences follow, no matter how much they hurt his children. It must be difficult to have such a perfect view of His children’s actions when these children are blinded by sin and pride. Perhaps the statement made by our Savior on the cross was far more reaching than we realize when He said in the middle of His agony, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “As concerned as I would be if somewhere in their lives, one of my children were seriously troubled or unhappy or disobedient, nevertheless I would be infinitely more devastated if I felt that at such a time that child could not trust me to help or thought his or her interest was unimportant to me or unsafe in my care. In that same spirit, I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how deeply it wounds the loving heart of God the Father or His Son, the Savior of the world, when They find that people do not feel confident in Their care or secure in Their hands or trust in Their commandments.”1
I am grateful for a Heavenly Father whose wisdom and perfection help us become like Him and because that purpose is stronger than His desire for our happiness, we are able to one day meet Him at His throne declaring His ways are just. We will discover that His ways brought us the greatest happiness, the greatest peace and consolation and above all, the greatest reward for the eternities.
1. “Pursuing the Fulness of Christ,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Liahona Magazine, April 2021, pp 9-11.