Finding Patience in Teaching


NOTE: This post was originally published at House of Sarager. Being a mom has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. Outside of my marriage, it is the journey that has taught me the most about what it means to become more like our Savior.

But there’s one lesson I don’t enjoy learning. Patience.

My husband has this saying, “Don’t pray for rain if you can’t handle the mud.” It’s the same with praying for patience. If you pray for it, you better be prepared for some rough moments that sort of milk the patience out of you.

I love helping my kids learn, but to be honest, there are times I struggle to have patience when it comes to teaching. How many times do I need to repeat myself before the lesson enters their cute little heads? Such as:

Shut the door.

Turn off the light downstairs.

Please don’t hit your brother.

Please don’t do headstands during prayer.

Please don’t tackle the baby.

The faster you eat dinner, the sooner you can get down.

Tell the truth.

An apple is a much better snack choice. Cookies aren’t healthy.

I should record a bunch of these “Teaching Moments” and play them to my kids as they fall asleep—like, you know, subliminal messages.

One lesson I’m constantly teaching is the lesson of kindness. A few months ago my kids and I were out running errands, and I was once again explaining to my 6 year old why it’s important to be kind. I was practically bearing my soul—telling her about the experiences I had as a child when other girls were unkind to me, and how it made me feel. At this point it got rather quiet in the backseat. I took this silence as a sign that the lesson was really changing her life, until she started laughing, saying, “Mom! Look at Kate! She’s trying to pick my nose!” (Kate’s our 1-year-old baby. And she does have an obsession with picking other people’s noses.) Rawr! Clearly my daughter wasn’t listening to a word I said. “What’s the point?” I thought. “Am I just wasting my breath?”

That night while reading in the book of Alma, chapter 36, my prayer was answered. Alma the Younger recounts his conversion story to his son Helaman—how he not only ignored his father’s teachings, but did everything he could to discredit them. A visit from an angel telling him to stop rendered Alma unconscious for three days. He tells Helaman of the torment he went through during those three days. He was literally in the lowest point of his life. And just as he was wishing for death, he remembered his father’s teachings; “… I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ.” As soon as Alma remembered what his father taught, he was changed. He went from rock bottom to feeling a joy beyond comprehension.

Alma the Younger’s father NEVER. STOPPED. TEACHING. Even when it seemed his son wasn’t listening. And eventually those teachings saved his son’s life.

I received so much hope from this. This scripture whispered, “Patience, Brooke.” My teaching moments may not change my kids’ lives right now; but it doesn’t mean they’re not listening. And it doesn’t mean I should give up. Planting a seed doesn’t guarantee an immediate tree, but you can’t expect a tree to come unless the seed is planted. As I continue to teach my children, I’m learning there may be mud. And the mud might not be very fun. But in the end something beautiful may come from it. Have patience. And don’t give up.