Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Like Little Children

These pictures are of my own sweet children being "child-like" in San Diego, California!

About eighteen months ago, I was called by our Stake President to serve in the Special Needs Mutual as a Young Women’s Advisor. Not only was I previously unaware that such a calling even existed, but I think it is safe to say that I was quite nervous and even a little afraid of what this new calling would be like. Well, it only took one Thursday night with the special needs young women to realize that my life would be richly blessed by this experience and that I had absolutely nothing to be nervous about. In fact, I have felt right at home, realizing that my experiences as a mother have been the perfect preparation for working with my class. I recognize the same child-like joy and eagerness in their eyes when I show them a picture of the Savior that I see at home with my young children.

I am reminded of the numerous times in the scriptures we are admonished to become as a little child. In Third Nephi, Chapter 11, verse 37, the Savior says: “And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And to add special emphasis, He repeats his commandment again, almost word for word in the next verse: 38 … ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little achild, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

I have often thought about what it is to become like a little child and I think there is so much we can learn from watching these 'special needs" children of God. Here are a few examples that I have seen:

First: If they love you, they tell you…and they tell you often, never wondering or worrying about what you might think of them in return. It takes a moment to get used to the fact that they want to hug or hold hands or kiss your cheek when they are happy. It is difficult to feel lonely or left out when someone is always linking arms with you, or grabbing your hand to walk to class, or sitting so close to you that your arms are pressed together. When Santa Claus visited our class at Christmas time, one of the girls in my class was terribly frightened; she jumped toward me and buried her head into my shoulder. I hugged her tightly until she calmed down. There have been times in my life when I have been new to a ward and felt shy and lonely as I entered a class for the first time. Can you imagine how different I would feel if someone sat right next to me and put her arm around me? Or if she grabbed my hand warmly and asked if we could be friends? Or how about if I was feeling scared about something in my life and I knew that I could turn to the sister sitting next to me and she would embrace me until I felt better? Because that’s what these special needs participants would do. They don’t love you for what you wear or how you look or how successful you seem. They just love you. They are unreserved in sharing love and friendship…and I think that is what the Savior would do as well.

Second: They smile and are happy about the simple things in life. They aren’t bogged down with their fears for the future or regrets from the past. They are living in the here and now, enjoying life to the fullest. When we visited a farm, many of them climbed on a sort-of-homemade, makeshift merry-go-round of sorts and with huge smiles, they rode around and around, never minding that they were clearly too big for the ride. A part of me wanted to jump on and try it too! Every week, I watch as these special friends arrive early, with smiles on their faces, ready to enjoy whatever it is that we have planned. Think of how different our lives would be if we awoke every day, happy and excited for whatever the day might bring. We all have so many blessings and so many reasons to be grateful. That positive outlook, that fresh start to every new day is a great attribute and one that would bless our lives if we could develop it.

Third: Their testimonies are sweet and simple. They know they are special. They know about their Savior. Most little children seem to believe these simple truths as well—displaying pure, unwavering faith. Each of my own children could tell you today that they are children of God and that they are special. I know that they don’t doubt it. They just know. Perhaps that is what the Savior meant when he told us to become as a little child—to have the faith of a little child, to love as a little child, and to enjoy the journey of life, no matter what the difficulties might be. Each day is a gift.

One evening we were practicing the song “I am a child of God.” My sweet friend Melanie, one of the young women in my class, was snuggled up close to me as we sang. She loves to sing and knows many of the hymns that we sing. As loudly as she could she was following along, verse by verse, singing words that might seem unclear to anyone who is unfamiliar with the song, but were perfectly clear to me. It felt like together we were singing our hearts out. Just as we started the third verse, I was reflecting on the sweet spirit she was bringing to the room, when I felt Melanie’s arm next to mine break out in goose bumps. I smiled to myself, wondering if she was feeling the spirit as strongly as I was. Finally, the song ended and the music leader decided to have us practice it again, much to Melanie’s delight. So, once again we started, singing our hearts out. Just as we got to the third verse, in the exact same spot, I felt Melanie’s arm break out again in goose bumps. It seemed as though something about that verse was particularly special to her. The spirit was strong as we sang the words: “I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store, if I but learn to do His will, I’ll live with Him once more.” That night, for me, those words took on new meaning. We’ll live with Him once more. I know that we are all children of God, and that we all have the opportunity to live with Him once more. I have felt the Spirit confirming that truth to me.

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have had to be around such special people. I’m not sure if my young women have gained anything from me, but I have certainly gained a lot from them. They are facing life with a different set of challenges than most of us. Their challenges aren’t easy, but they give it their all. If they can smile and be happy notwithstanding their difficulties, then hopefully, so can I and so can each of us! After all, we all have special needs. I know that my Savior lives. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to live with Him once more.

Have a Happy Day!!



Jaron, Joni, and Family said...

Thank you Rindi for Posting that. I need to read that every single morning and probably in the afternoon too! Why do we struggle with those things. I know I do and I want to be more like all of your sweet friends. I love you. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Rindi, That is such a special message. I wish the whole world could read it. Maybe we would all have love in our hearts and smiles on our faces. We all need to remember as a little child.

thank you for sharing. Love, Mom

Em Russ said...

So true, Rindi! I was just telling one of my friends about how you worked with the special needs mutual. Thanks for a great reminder!

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