Are we using our power to be kind in the midst of frustration, to smile at a stranger, to create safe havens for the people entrusted to our care?
All of our grandchildren love animals! I’m fairly certain it’s because their parents do and they’ve been given the chance from their earliest moments to interact with lots of different members of the animal kingdom. I am grateful they are being taught to respect life in all of its forms and I think it adds a dimension of early caring that perhaps can’t be so easily taught in another way.
It takes determined effort to teach a child to be careful and kind with something so easily destroyed, giving in the process, a better awareness of the principle of righteous dominion. Animals can’t communicate the way we are accustomed to and it takes a concentrated willingness to try and understand what their particular type of ‘language’ means. It requires patience to observe and interpret what they are trying to tell us. As children have opportunities to hold a wiggling, squirming life they can learn to not react harshly and over-aggressively when teeth meet skin. When coaching children how to handle baby animals, they begin to grasp the concept that sometimes negative things happen to them from a source that doesn’t really know any better. They learn to control their reactions, to forgive the offense, and to continue to care. They acquire the skills to put the pieces in place for a safe environment for their animal friends.
We all try to teach these concepts to our children in any way we can because we know that life will be better for them if they learn to navigate our world with kindness and understanding. We want them to learn the valuable trait of not reacting but rather choosing to act in a manner according to what they know is right. We hope that they will transfer this knowledge to all their interactions with the people in their lives.
I am reminded as I watch them with a life in their hands, how much power we hold within our own to destroy or to build up; to cause pain or to have a healing influence; to utter harsh criticizing words or to be a peace maker. We can change the course of a life – or a relationship – in a single uncontrolled moment. We have the power to choose the way we will act and respond to others. The real question is – what are we doing with that power?
Thomas S. Monson taught that, “Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness.”
The enemy of all things good would have us believe that we are weak and powerless and doomed to fail. But I know the Lord has much greater things in store for His children. He helps us each and every day as we hold fragile life in our hands and whispers to our heart of kindness, and gentleness, and love.
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