Tender Mercy #15: Growth conditions

One morning, my young son Ezra very politely asked, “Mom, after you finish nursing Nathaniel and after  you eat your own breakfast and after you feed grandma, could you read me a story?” I just stopped and looked at him and almost cried. How could this three-year-old have such patience and awareness? How had he grown so accustomed to waiting for me? I never would have purposefully asked so much of him, but our situation had required it of him and he had developed an amazing patience for one so little (or one of any age!). I thought about how, despite the difficulty, we had all grown by having the opportunity to care for my elderly mom in our home. Her struggle and our struggles had given us a gift that we never would have sought for, but it was a great gift nonetheless. As Isaiah 61:3 states, those who experience suffering will be given “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Though I do not see God as the source of suffering, our mortal conditions do allow for it. In the Book of Mormon, Nephi’s words capture my sentiments: “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Ne 11:17). I am thankful that even difficulty can be made productive and useful.

     

The photos above show Ezra and his grandma. In the second picture, two-year-old Ezra is lying down by his grandma about a year after her stroke.

In doing this series on tender mercies, I have learned that tender mercies come in greater concentration in times of need. Looking back at my posts, I see that most of my examples come from the years I cared for my mom after her strokes–one of the hardest times in my life so far. To me this is evidence of a responsive, loving God that truly is aware of His children. He is aware of you; He is aware of me. What a comfort to know this!

Now I plan to steer my blog again to parenting issues, but it’s all related, isn’t it? All parts of life affect our parenting.

This is #15 of the 15 part series The Tender Mercies Project. See the initial post here.

Tender Mercy #14: A significant personal interaction

Many people have made a difference for me–inspired me or taught me significant lessons. I have held onto certain conversations, certain observations for years and years, often without the other person ever knowing what a help or example they have been.

I remember several years ago when I received a piece of needed advice from my good friend Sharon. She is witty and wise and old enough to be my grandmother. I called her one day as an overburdened caregiver about to give out. In addition to caring for my own children, I was taking care of my elderly mother who needed total assistance. On this particular day, my mom (out of desperateness and confusion I assume) had pulled my hair and pinched me as I tried to do her routine turning and changing. I felt so hurt and angry, but at the same time felt angry with myself for taking it so personally. I cried to Sharon over the phone and she told me something I’ll never forget. She said, “Mary, why are you being so hard on yourself? Saints and heroes become such not because of how they feel, but because of what they DO!”

Of course I wanted to feel consistently loving and positive while I cared for my mom–I usually succeeded in this–but Sharon helped me see that even in my lapses, I could rise up to care for my mother anyway. These were not moments of personal failure, but moments of triumph and nobility. Yes, it was important to acknowledge my feelings and arrange rest and help as I could, but I didn’t need my judgment of my feelings to add to my burden. That phone call blessed me in the moment and continues to strengthen me when difficulties arise.

When has a specific personal interaction been a strength or inspiration to you–a “tender mercy”?

When have you been an inspiration to someone else? (Many of these instances you may not even know!)

Related quotes:

 "God does watch over us and does notice us, but it is usually through someone else
 that he meets our needs." --Spencer W. Kimball

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." --Alma 37:6

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. . . . It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ( It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye). — The Little Prince by Saint Exupery

# 14 of a 15-part series: The Tender Mercies Project (click HERE for the introductory post)