by Kari Diane Pike
Will you all think less of me if I confess something? I hope not. I must confess I really stink at the "single parent" thing. I'm not literally a single parent. My husband is alive and well and we have a very strong and healthy relationship. He just happens to work 700 miles away and sometimes an entire month goes by without him being able to come home for a weekend, so I feel like I am on my own.
When Doug obtained his job, I felt so grateful and blessed we had a paycheck and insurance, I knew I could handle anything. After all, we took this test before. I knew all the answers this time, and this time I would pass with flying colors. I would single-handedly feed, clothe, and nurture the children, clean the pool, mow the yard, go to school and sell the house...no matter how long it took. (That's the pride part.) Four days after Doug left for Utah, I found myself standing in the hallway holding the cell phone out in front of me as I tried to squelch an argument between my teenage daughters over who got to use the shower first...despite the fact that there were two other perfectly good, EMPTY, showers in the house. I firmly declared, "Listen! Can you hear them? That's it! I'm done! I need you to come home now!" (Now comes the really humble...humiliating...part.) Fast forward a few weeks. What kind of parent, upon witnessing a son lose his temper and throw an object at his sister, would grab him roughly and scream at him for what he had just done? As the angry words flew out of my mouth, and chastisement from the Spirit flooded my heart, I felt so foolish. How do you apologize for doing the exact same thing you are lecturing your child for doing? I stopped my tirade and spoke softly. I explained that I recognized my mistake and I apologized. I also explained that my mistake did not make his mistake alright. I gave him a hug and we prayed.
After the kids were off to school, I sat at the table with a contrite spirit and a broken heart. Despite the fact that I had been through this test before, I had failed again. I opened my scriptures and began to read I Nephi 16. When I came to verses 20 -29, I began to feel hope. In this chapter, Nephi describes his experience when he broke his bow. His entire family begins to murmur and complain about their hardships and the lack of food. Even father Lehi is described as beginning "to murmur against the Lord his God." What did Nephi do? He went to work. He armed himself with a sling and stones and made a bow and arrow. Then Nephi did something that never before seemed very significant to me. He went to his father Lehi and asked him, "Whither shall I go to obtain food?" Despite his father's weakness, Nephi approached him as his father and priesthood authority. Lehi inquired of the Lord. The Lord chastened Lehi for his murmuring, but answered him none the less. The Lord used the Liahona to give Lehi and his family directions and Nephi wrote, "And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."
Nephi easily could have asked the Lord himself where to find food. Instead, Nephi honored and respected his father. I see more clearly the Lord's loving patience with us. He knows our weaknesses and wants to help us overcome them. Lehi was a great prophet, but he was still a man and he still made mistakes. My gratitude for the Atonement grows each day as I learn from my mistakes and not only how to forgive others, but how to forgive myself. As Nephi and his family followed the directions they were given, the Lord blessed them with strength and the abilities they needed to carry out their mission. Obedience brings blessings. Faith and hope bring about love and charity.
There's hope for this parent yet!