A Change of Heart is a Good Start
We had a therapist come and talk to our Relief Society sisters last Thursday evening. It was a good question and answer session; but, as with most valuable information, there wasn’t enough time to really address individual needs or to reach the one. Also, as with anything of lasting value, many lessons have to be learned personally. I have found that Jesus is the best Teacher and the One most gifted to reach the one.
This is not to say that study of behavior will not help us. Certainly, it will. We must be sure that what we are learning is in harmony with the gospel: Jesus’s teaching, the scriptures, and the prophets. As we equip ourselves with knowledge, it is important for us to put principles into practice in our lives, which will help us feel more whole and empower us to live better lives. I’m thankful for the time Brother Goodson spent with us, and I was impressed to see him offering personal counsel to some after the meeting ended, of his own freewill and off the clock.
While many topics were discussed, I am only going to comment on one today. How can we change our behavior in the moment? Let me explain. A sister was concerned about her personal reactions to her children when they misbehave. She feels like her reactions are not really choices, but just flared responses. How many times have we all felt like that?
Well, the gentlemen talked about Jesus’s extreme gift of self-control. Certainly, He always responded with love. Even in the times when He showed anger, He still had perfect control. Did the man’s response help the sister know what to do? Well, we all understand that we must pattern our lives after the Savior, but sometimes that seems easier said than done.
Someone brought up the scene of Jesus clearing the courtyard of the temple from the buyers and the sellers. No one should suggest that Jesus wasn’t angry, because He clearly was. While there are critics who may say that He acted rashly, we must remember that He took the time to actually construct a cord with which to drive away the wrongful activity. Plus, and this is important, Jesus as the High Priest of the Universe actually had the authority to do what He did to clean and safeguard His Father’s house (see John 2:12-16).
I feel it is necessary to remember that we do not believe in a God who is without body, parts, and passions; and, we as His children have inherited those good qualities. Now it is up to us to learn how to bridle them as He has done.
So back to the woman’s question. The time for change is not in the heat of the moment. The time for change is in our quiet, reflective moments. When we pray, we need to ask for help. When we ponder, we need to write down our impressions. When we are honest with ourselves, we need to acknowledge that sometimes our actions are not appropriate, and that our children’s actions do not justify childish reactions. Then we need to make a plan. We can pattern play, acting out scenarios and responses.
We can and should involve the children. We need to make explicit those things which we consider rules in our home. Even if the implications are there, children need the solidarity of set rules. When we involve them in establishing rules concerning the government of our attitudes and actions, and when we let them determine fair and reasonable consequences for both behavior and misbehavior, we are actually giving them a sense of security in our homes. If we develop a standard of trying to adhere to these rules ourselves, they will feel secure. And so will we.
The thing to remember is that our responses are conditioned responses, which means that they have been practiced for many years. So in order to change the undesired outcome, we need to recondition ourselves; we need to change the condition of our response. And if that doesn’t take planning and effort, I don’t know what does. But if we desire a better response and a more loving outcome; if we desire our children to learn better patterns, too; then, it is worth the effort.
As we plan for changes and recondition our responses, we will notice that the outcomes will also change. We learn in Human Behavior classes, that if we keep doing the same song and dance, we will keep getting the same results; but, if one person changes his or her steps, that cycle will be disrupted and the dance will begin to change.
Suggested scriptures to ponder:
King Benjamin taught all of His people the gospel, and they were all converted. How can studying the gospel and strengthening our own conversion, help us have a change of heart? How can it help us improve our family relationships.
Sometimes it is necessary to disciple our children quickly, sharply, and firmly. But we should be in control and our actions should be motivated by love; and, we need to afterwards take the time to reaffirm our love for our children.
Doctrine and Covenants 141:40-46
Please also read Dealing with Loss