Great shall be the peace of thy children
A little while before the birth of our first kid, a wise ward member gave me some counsel I will never forget. He said that when a first child is born, there are actually three people born that day: the child is born into mortality, the woman is born into motherhood, and the man is born into fatherhood. The whole family takes a huge collective step forward in their roles. All emerge on the birthday as brand new creatures. So when my wife and I finally welcomed our son, I expected it to hit me harder. I expected my whole outlook and perspective on life would suddenly change now that I was a father. But that never happened.
I learned that my becoming a father is like my conversion to the Gospel– it's a process and a journey marked by small efforts and almost imperceptible progress day after day. I feel much the same today as I did when my kid was born. But one of the changes I have noticed in myself is my growing concern for the quality of the world around me. It's bad enough to know that the world will just continue to get more wicked, more angry, more immoral, and more violent in my lifetime. But to think that it will be even worse for my sweet little boy definitely makes me worry. Parents everywhere share the same concern: what kind of world will our kids inherit from us?
The world will continue to degrade
When I started elementary school, I remember my parents instructing me that my teacher was basically acting in their place while I was at school. I should listen to what she says, obey, and respect her as I (should) obey and respect my parents. There was no question growing up that the teacher held the authority and was the source of truth while I was at school.
But looking at the world today, I realize I won't be able to give that same counsel to my children as they enter school. Although I will certainly teach them to respect their teachers' authority, I will also have to warn them that there will be things their teachers will teach them that will contradict what we teach them at home. And that when those instances come up, they should understand that their teachers can be good people but still be very wrong in what they teach, and to believe what my wife and I teach at home above anything their teachers might say at school. And they should not be afraid to politely, nicely defend their testimony of what is right, even if it means that others around them choose to be offended or they end up on their teachers' bad side.
UPDATE, October 2019: It's October 2019 now. There's a father being commanded by the state of Texas to raise his son as a girl or he will lose custody. A radio commentator is facing an outrage mob for saying if the state tries to take his kids away because he is not teaching social precepts that counter his religious beliefs, he will meet them at the door with a gun. The Church is seeing increasingly higher levels of disaffection from younger generations, and even active members are turning away from the principles of obedience to God and His Prophets. And that's just what's been going on in the news the past few weeks. It has been less than three years since I wrote this post, but increasingly we see that "the truths and values we embrace are mocked on ev'ry hand."
I've had to stop telling my wife what is happening in the news because she gets so anxious about our children's future that she can't sleep. So I don't tell her. The rate at which our world is spiraling into Isaiah's prophecy of calling evil good and good evil is increasing.
But our children will still find peace
And then, amidst that dark backdrop, we read this promise from the Lord:
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
We must remember that. The Lord promises that through our diligence in rearing our children in the Gospel, "great shall be the peace of our children". They are strong. They will not fear. They will not be as worried as we are. They will be at peace with their challenges and meet them head-on. For parents, this is an even more wonderful promise than if the Savior had said: "great shall be thy peace."
I'm encouraged by what another blogger (not of our faith) said in one of his posts:
Have kids and raise them with hope and equip them with the armor of truth. They will suffer, just as you have, but they will also live, and love, and win many battles for Christ.
Sometimes I look at my own kids and with dread I think to myself, "you have no idea what this world will do to you." But then I realize that I should be looking at the world and with joy saying to it, "you have no idea what my children will do for you."