Saturday, February 25, 2006

Teaching sacrifice to an eight-year-old

In my family, when we turned eight and became official members of the church, we were expected to start fasting on Fast Sunday (although we started slow--just skipping breakfast for the first couple of times, and then lunch, too, etc). Having watched my two older sisters go through this process, I was a little dubious of the benefit of skipping meals. Needless to say, at that young age, I didn't understand the "why" of fasting.

Just before my eighth birthday, my father took me for a walk around our block, just him and me. We talked briefly about my upcoming baptism and confirmation, and then he started to explain about fasting. I don't remember all that he said, but I know that he tried to help me understand the conflict between what my body likes (the natural man) and what God wants me to do (the light of Christ). I seem to remember talking about the body and the spirit, my father using a glove and his hand to help me understand the two parts. He explained that by denying our body certain things (like food), we strengthened our spirit, and made it easier to hear the Holy Ghost. And I remember feeling very grown-up, that my daddy was explaining doctrine to me, and I totallyunderstood it. (Ha!)

I feel pretty certain that this talk was the result of my upcoming baptism and uncertainty regarding fasting, but the help it gave me during my teenage years is immeasurable. Even today, as I contemplate my natural desires (especially laziness and pride), that early lesson still comes back to me. It isn't always logical to deny yourself food, or naps, or entertainments. What works for some people doesn't for others. But I firmly believe that a little sacrifice on our part brings disproportionately large blessings. And I'm grateful to my father for trying to explain this eternal principle to an almost-eight-year-old. Thanks, daddy!


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  • Amen to that. Although I have had many joyous fasting experiences, I still struggle with the fasting = rejoicing equation in D&C 59:14.

    We how have three of our five children fasting. We always counsel together before the fast to have a family purpose for our fast, and then we open and close the fast with a family prayer. That seems to help.

    When my teenage son asks what time dinner is (a question he already knows the answer to), I tell him that he can feel free to conclude his fast any time he wants to, that it's between him and the Lord, and that he needs to have a prayer to conclude his fast. He always decides that it's better to endure. Example, counseling, and teaching seem to help.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 2/27/2006 7:46 AM  

  • "Even today, as I contemplate my natural desires (especially laziness and pride), that early lesson still comes back to me. . . I firmly believe that a little sacrifice on our part brings disproportionately large blessings."

    So today I've been musing around the bloggernacle, looking for the highbrow and witty doctrinal expositions that I often resort to when I'm feeling a need for an extra boost of spiritual reinforcement. Given that I've been struggling with self-discipline lately, and guilting over it excessively, I stopped and was completely delighted when this gem of a post had exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes I forget how simply the most important lessons can be portrayed - something your father clearly understood. Thanks for an important reminder, and for words which have renewed my conviction to pursue things of God rather than things of the world.

    By Blogger miss sarah, at 3/05/2006 3:41 PM  

  • Miss Sarah, thank you so much for the kind words! I let myself forget that the simple things are so important too often, and I am so grateful that I have such a store of memories and lessons taught in my life. One of the reasons I love the bloggernacle is that I can feel inspired by others' experiences. I'm glad that I was able to contribute in a small way to your day. Thanks again.

    By Blogger Keryn, at 3/05/2006 6:32 PM  

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