Thursday, February 28, 2013
Isaiah's Parenting Passage
Years ago my brother asked me to share with him one of my favorite scriptures. I don’t remember which one I referenced at that time but I do remember the scripture he shared with me. Isaiah 61:1-3
Now, not many people even read Isaiah, let alone find a favorite scripture among his writings, so I was intrigued. I asked him to explain why. Because of his explanation this passage of scripture is now one of my favorites as well.
This passage is a Messianic passage, meaning it is referencing the Savior and his role. My brother said we are told to become like the Savior and, if we are truly trying to be like Him, we will follow the example He set and do as He does. "That means this passage about the Savior applies to me as a husband and a father," he said. "This is what I need to become."
And, as he read the passage and applied it to his role in life, I realized it also applied to me...and to everyone no matter what roles we carry.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;” Good tidings—good news. We are to preach the good news of the gospel to our families and friends. Leave the doom and gloom to the world and teach and reteach the blessings the Lord has instore for us.
“...he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted,” This, my brother said, is one of his most important roles as a father. When his children have their hearts broken by life, he is to use his priesthood and his understanding of the gospel to help heal their hearts.
“...to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” This phrase caused my brother to get a little emotional. As a parent and a man he was seeing how choices can imprison those we love. Yet, he said, when his children sin--and they will--he is not to throw them into a verbal or emotional prison with his response, criticism or belittling. If he is to be more like Christ, then he is to give them the key to repentance, help them see they can repent and change, and teach them in a loving and personal way the blessings that will come into their lives for staying close to the Savior. He is to help them open the prison doors and escape the captivity of their choices.
“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;” In this phrase the Lord is announcing a full year of acceptance and blessings and only one day of any kind of punishment. As a parent, my brother said he must always remember that 1:365 ratio. He smiled and said, “That tells me I only have one day every year I’m allowed to be upset. I have to keep my grumbling, harshness and complaining to under 24 hours. It puts it in prospective for me. Is getting upset about it really that important in the big picture of time? Probably not.”
“...to comfort all that mourn;” This, he said, is self explanatory. It is his calling to comfort his wife and children whenver they are mourning...not analyze whether they could have done something better. He is called to comfort them—not pick them apart. There are other times for teaching, but at the moment of their mourning he is to follows the Savior's example and give them comfort and hope. Period.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes,” This, he said, was one of his favorite phrases in the passage. When the fires of life burn the self-confidence of a family member or friend, or when doubts plague them into feeling they are of little value, a Christ-like person will point out their strengths and inner qualities. He will help them see beauty where others may see only ashes. In the midst of their trials, he will help them notice the ways they are growing and thriving and succeeding every day. He will give them beauty for ashes.
“...the oil of joy for mourning,” My brother said he is to use prayer and his priesthood often to bless his family and bring joy into their lives. The oil of joy should also be what he carries whenever he is around them. Families are a tremendous joy and blessing.
“...the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” When life weighs them down, he is to make sure his words dress them in praise and hope.
“...that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” My brother knows that if he fulfills his role as a Christ-like husband and father, his family will become trees of righteousness—strong, with deep roots and well-spread branches and the Lord will be glorified for that planting.
That passage of scripture is a good touchstone for all of us. Since that day, years ago, I have never forgotten the gift my brother gave me by sharing one of his favorite scriptures with me.