By Wednesday I had come up with nothing, and was a bit confused. My sincerity was genuine, but my progress was, well, nonexistent. Then I was reminded of a thought my friend Irene had shared, from Mosiah 26, which says in essence that the Lord focuses on the good things we do.
The community was witnessing "iniquity in abundance"and Alma was "troubled in his spirit." He "inquired of the Lord," and later it says he "poured out his whole soul to God". (Been there, done that.) But what's remarkable is his answer: The Lord temporarily ignored all the stuff that was going wrong and reminded him what was going right.This resonated for me in particular because it mirrors so closely the experience I had regarding motherhood (described here). And then finally last night I was blessed with a perfect moment. I was putting our youngest son to bed (ironically the same son I had contemplated not having nine or ten years ago). He gave me the routine hug and kiss, then kissed me a few extra times, and said, "Remember when I was little and I never wanted you to leave? I'd keep kissing and kissing you, and holding onto you..." and I said, "Mm-hm, and do you remember which songs I used to sing to you?" He remembered: Away In A Manger and Silent Night...every night...because after "round yon virgin" it says, "mother and child." He loved that phrase. He'd ask for it night after night, and squeeze my hand or turn and give me a cherubic wink whenever I got to "mother and child."
He said "Blessed art thou" five times, each with a specific reason, a sign of progress, something that was right on target. He even praised him for the very act of asking. The story says that "when Alma had heard these words he wrote them down that he might have them." (Ah, how we need to remember these streams of mercy!) God still threw in a plug for repentance and forgiveness, but not until after he had blessed him and praised him. And they "began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly."
"Yeah, he said, and you would always tickle my back.... Hey, speaking of "tickling my back...." "Do you want me to tickle your back tonight?"
(big grin) "Yeah, will you?"
"Sure. Which song do you want me to sing?"
"Could you tell me a story?" (I'm resisting a comment on the quality of my singing here.) :)
"Sure, I guess. Which story would you like to hear? The one about Cozette?"
"I want you to make one up." Great. I am not a very creative storyteller. I was tempted to tell him a true one my dad told me. But I promised him I'd make one up. And so I did.
Somehow it turned into a pretty involved fairy tale/fable about sacrifice. You can read it here.
As the story ended the look on his face was truly magical. He just glowed! He told me it was the best story he's ever heard. But what matters most is that our 8-year-old son went to sleep happy and loved, and wrapped in the Spirit.
Then there was a little follow-up moment this morning. Over breakfast he was telling his dad how much money he'd earned, saved, and spent, and Jeff asked him if he'd remembered to pay his tithing. All of a sudden he looked like a deer in the headlights. Oops. Busted. And he also looked a bit reluctant to put any of that precious saved portion toward tithing.
But then I whispered to him, "That's kind of what your story was about last night, wasn't it?" He nodded and smiled, and it looked like a light went on and a cheerful giver was born.
So I'm trying to put aside the time I heard myself shriek across the yard to tell my daughter to be patient (dripping with irony, I know), the pans that are still downstairs soaking in the sink, our youngest calling me a hypocrite (I didn't think he even knew the word...at first I thought he said Hippogriff!) and the myriad other moments I'm not proud of, and rejoice in the fact that so far this week I have one and a half perfect moments.