Beckett was fighting with the idea of going to church all morning. We had just gone to the Cedar City temple open house last night as a family and told him to wear church clothes, so he wasn’t excited to wear them again today.
Beck has fought going to church on and off for a long time now, and we’ve struggled with knowing how to motivate him. I don’t want to force him, but I also definitely want him to go. This scripture was on my mind a lot this morning as I struggled with knowing how to parent Beck:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained…only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” –Doctrine and Covenants 121:41
My natural parenting response is to want to force or bully my kids into doing what I want when the crying starts, their attitude turns on, or time is short. But today, I tried extra hard to speak lovingly and with understanding. I agreed with him that it is hard to wear church clothes two days in a row, and church doesn’t always seem fun or exciting. But I made a polite request of him to come, and I explained why I thought he should go.
I also prayed to Heavenly Father that Beckett would have more of a desire to go and have more good experiences at church that would help him enjoy it. I asked my sister-in-law for advice, and she recommended having Beck write a note to his teacher. That was a great idea since this is our last Sunday in our current ward. He was excited to give the card, but not enough to get dressed and go.
I didn’t want to resort to bribing, but I figure it never hurts to sweeten the good experience. I said anyone coming in the car would get some granola bars on the way to church. That pushed Beck over the edge of indecision; and he finally, begrudgingly got ready for church. We got to church late, and things went fine after that.
As we arrived home afterward and were walking to the front door, Beck said, “Mom, guess what? I felt the Spirit today. First time!” And he had a big smile on his face.
Talk about music to my ears! I asked him to tell me more about it, and he said he felt a really good, happy feeling all over his body as soon as our car entered the church parking lot that morning . And he said the good feeling stayed for all of church. I asked him if he was expecting that good feeling to come, and he said emphatically, “No, not at all!” I was so excited; yes, he was exactly right! He really did feel the Spirit. What a blessing.
I told Beck how I had actually prayed this morning that he would have good experiences at church and more of a desire to go. I asked him if he thought my prayer was answered. He said yes.
Then I said, do you think any other prayers were answered? Do you remember you have been praying for months to know if you should get baptized? Do you think this was your answer? He said, “Yeah, I think so!” And he told me he wanted to be baptized.
Then I talked to him about how prayers are a form of work, and how he has also been doing work by reading The Book of Mormon to find out if he should be baptized. We talked about how the Lord answers our earnest prayers, especially when we put in the work to know for ourselves, even if it might take a while. Over the last few months, I regularly asked Beck if he’d received answers to his prayers about baptism yet; and he’d shake his head and say with slight exasperation, “No, not a bit!”
For the last few months, I have also been praying for the Lord to answer Beckett’s baptism prayers. It is funny how no matter how many times I have had prayers answered in the past, it still takes faith each time to trust that the Lord will hear and answer. And it is hard to wait on the Lord, especially as I watched my son working for so long to get answers.
I was reminded today of these lyrics from a Hilary Weeks song, “Do what you can, give everything that you have, and then give God the rest.” I felt satisfied that we had done our best to teach Beckett what the Spirit feels like and had taught him about baptism, prayer, and The Book of Mormon. Then we gave the rest to God and trusted Him to lead our son.
Today, I am so grateful for answered prayers for my boy and for me too.