I’ve always been a skeptic — critically thinking, cynical perhaps, un-trusting at the rotten core. I think it might be my parents fault, but I’m trying to blame everything on them, so I’m not sure if it’ll all stick.
So our family life has gotten a bit stressful lately. We have a daughter who (as I believe I’ve spoken about before) is painfully traveling through her life. My husband and I have taken parenting classes, read numerous books, spent countless hours on our knees, and shed not a few tears over this daughter. And lately, we’ve watched the entire dynamic of our once calm house fall into utter chaos. Waking up to screaming and yelling is not a good way to live a life.
Now, here’s where I’m really going to show my incompetency, but I’m going to divulge some weakness here. We’ve been mostly just trying to holler and punish our way to obedience and peace. Seriously, is it any wonder things have gotten worse? For all the prayers and diligent scripture study we’ve put into this situation, we’ve largely ignored the gospel in our attempt to help her.
Yep, I am just that daft.
But several weeks ago, something popped into that thick skull of mine (I’m quite certain it was the Spirit who had just had to work for 8 1/2 years to get through to me). “Get your daughter praying and reading her scriptures.” Revelatory? Hardly. In fact when the idea hit me, it was slightly underwhelming. I mean, we already study the scriptures and pray together as a family. I didn’t think the idea was anything stellar or new.
But it persisted with me.
So one Sunday afternoon, after a lovely afternoon of screaming, hitting, kicking, name-calling and tears, we went to her bedroom to de-compress and talk it out. My anger started to melt into some sort of pleading prayer directed to the Lord through my conversation with my daughter. He didn’t let me down. I was suddenly talking to her about personal and private prayer, done on her knees and alone. The kids had always said their bedtime prayers with a parent present, as if to consult or help. As I persisted in conversation about finding peace through prayer, my daughter started sobbing into my shoulder. “I need peace, mom… I’ll try it.”
So, two weeks have passed. This experiment has had time to incubate, and I have no idea how to adequately express my complete amazement at the results.
My daughter has found peace.
Her entire countenance has changed. Her focus is shifting. Her breathing seems slower. She’s doing secret acts of service for her one-time nemesis, her sister. My husband and I are completely floored. And by that I mean we are completely floored, no kidding.
This is not to say, of course, that she has been completely calm and pleasant all day, every day. She certainly has lost it several times in the last two weeks. But more important than the tally of fights and screaming is that I’ve learned some remarkable lessons in this experience.
The Spirit really speaks peace to each of us. Peace really can change behavior. The Lord’s promises are real. Experiment yourself! Don’t take my word for it.