"Who among us can say that he or she has not felt fear? I know of no one who has been entirely spared. Some, of course, experience fear to a greater degree than do others. Some are able to rise above it quickly, but others are trapped and pulled down by it and even driven to defeat. Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly." - Gordon B Hinckley
At a fairly young age, Megan became a voracious reader. She brought home stacks of books from the library every week, and unlike the other kids who would leave most of them untouched and unread, Megan would actually read every single one, sometimes multiple times. She still does. I can remember the panic I felt the first time she brought home a stack of books that I was completely unfamiliar with. One day while she was at school, I tried to skim through all of them to make sure everything she was reading was appropriate for her age and for our standards. After spending the better part of the morning in her room and not even making it through half the pile, I left feeling totally discouraged and frustrated.
How in the heck was I supposed to protect her from potential dangers if I didn't even know what they were? How in the heck could I possibly screen every book in the library? Not to mention every other source of media out there...TV shows, movies, music? These kids were growing up and wandering way too far out of my sight. Things were bound to creep in before I could preview them...and then what??
There were quite a few years of frustration and worry before I finally relented to the fact that I was not physically or emotionally capable of going before them around every corner to preview and prepare them for whatever they might see or hear or read. Until I realized that I didn't have to do that.
“Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.” - Doctrine and Covenants 68:5-6
I realized it is not my job as the mother of these children to see around every corner first or to run around looking for all the potential potholes in the road ahead of them and then stand guard to save them from falling in. My job is to KNOW the scriptures, to KNOW the Savior, and to be intimately acquainted with the voice of the Spirit, and then to teach my children to know those things for themselves. It is my job to pray on their behalf for discernment to recognize warning signs, to have difficult conversations when necessary, and to bear testimony freely and often of the HOPE and LOVE and POWER that is found only in and through the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.
"Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us. Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God." - Gordon B HinckleyAfter a recent midweek youth activity that was well-intentioned but poorly executed, my kids came home with emotions ranging from panic and urgency to doubt and hopelessness. I am posting here what I told them last night.
I do not know what I would do in the event of a terrorist attack. I could not escape from the trunk of a car or free myself if tied with zip ties or duct tape. If someone tried to attack me, I do not have a plan. I have never taken a self defense class, nor do I have any desire to.
But what I DO KNOW is that by going to seminary and having family prayer and scripture study every morning, and by making the choices they continue to make, they arm themselves with more power than any earthly weapon they could ever choose to carry with them.
I KNOW that there is no tactical pen or paracord bracelet that will provide the security, personal peace and protection from the scary things of the world better than daily scripture study and prayer. And there is no companion better able to go before us around every corner and warn us of potential dangers than the Holy Ghost.
"The Lord said, “Take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand” (D&C 27:15). Our young people in many ways are much stronger and better than we were. They and we should not be afraid of what is ahead. Encourage our young people. They need not live in fear (see D&C 6:36). Fear is the opposite of faith. While we cannot erase wickedness, we can produce young Latter-day Saints who, spiritually nourished, are immunized against evil influences. As a grandfather who has lived a long time, I counsel you to have faith. Things have a way of working out. Stay close to the Church. Keep your children close to the Church." - Boyd K PackerThere is no amount of survival skills training that will shield us from every bad person or storm that may come our way. The very nature of life makes storms inevitable. The agency of other people, the general challenges that life itself brings, and our own occasional stupid decisions make total avoidance of storms an impossible goal. Heavenly Father's plan was never designed to shield us from every storm, but rather to provide comfort and protection WITHIN those storms and to lead us THROUGH THEM to a greater understanding of the Atonement and eventually back to our heavenly home.
I'm surprisingly grateful today for that youth activity because it provided the catalyst for a family discussion that we probably would not have had otherwise. It also prompted a mini search today for what the scriptures say about fear, and what has been taught in conference. And that search will turn into a FHE lesson next week when Craig is home. If our testimonies are secured more fully in the process, it doesn't really matter whether it was a great lesson that made us think or if it was a train wreck.
How grateful I am for a heavenly plan that works and that does not fill our heads with fear and chaos, but empowers us and fills us with HOPE and JOY despite the earthly conditions that surround us.