Surrounding our home we have a large lot with lots of grass. And since moving into it almost three years ago we decided to put out the money to buy an good quality lawn mower.
One of those fancy zero turn ride ons that cost entirely too much. For the first few mows, our 12 year old son begged to have the chance to mow. We resisted at first because often, this sweet boy ends up wrecking things. He doesn’t mean too. But somehow it’s often what happens. Breaks the dishes, wrecks the toys within minutes of opening them, drops books in the tub or explodes smoothie all over the books… and on and on.
So allowing him the opportunity to try learning this skill with an expensive piece of machinery is scary. The first time he was completely focused. He did an amazing job. He followed the lines, did the edges, cleaned off the lawn first, etc. All the little details that are part of a good lawn mow. Since that time it’s gone pretty much down hill.
I was lamenting to my dad about how he’s not doing a very good job lately and my dad’s response was “you have to remember, you’re not growing a lawn. You’re growing a boy.”
The next time he mowed lost the keys – this time permanently so we had to replace them, I called my dad again. And after listening to me he said again, “I told you, it’s not about your lawn. You’re raising a boy.”
My dad is right. It’s not about our lawn looking perfect. It’s about my boy. There have been quite a few lessons from this lawn mowing experience. Some for me and hopefully some for him.
1. People won’t always do a good job. Let them try anyways.
One of my very favourite quotes about human interaction is from Jeffrey R. Holland:
Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. This must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. And so must we.”Jeffrey R. Holland
Anywhere I turn and see someone – they’re doing their best. All of them. No one is purposely doing a bad job at being a parent, a friend, a neighbor. We’re all just trying our best. That’s enough.
In fact that’s all God is actually asking of us. Recently Joy D Jones quoted Russell M Nelson when he said:
The Lord loves effort, and effort brings rewards. We keep practicing. We are always progressing as long as we are striving to follow the Lord. He doesn’t expect perfection today.”Russell M. Nelson
Doesn’t that just give you hope and encouragement. All we need to do is to put in our effort. God lets us try again and again, in our own meager ways. And He loves us for it.
2. Forgiveness is essential in life.
We have to let things go. Over and over. When he came to me the third time of losing the keys crying and feeling upset, I said to him “Do you know how many times God will forgive us when we screw up?” “Always?” “Yes sweetheart. Always. That’s how moms and dads are too. We’ll always forgive.”
Boyd K. Packer summed it up beautifully with:
If you are carrying some burden, forget it, let it alone. Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy…”Boyd K. Packer
I don’t know about you, but I feel grateful every day that Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be forgiven for our sins.
3. With the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, We can always get help.
One time he was mowing the lawn and I was following him to make sure he did a good job- pointing out places he missed, keeping him focused. It was going great and then I had another child Come along and distract me. In the next 5 mins he had backed it into the marshy area on the edge of our lawn. We could not get it out. Neither dad nor oldest brother were home to help push it out. So I told him to jump on his bike and ride quick to his super strong friend’s house that lived close. That friend came over and pulled us out in about 30 seconds.
We couldn’t do it on our own. With my bad back and Eli not being big enough – it just wasn’t possible for us. But with some help, we could get out of that muddy situation, wash off and try again.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ lets us do this over and over and over. What a blessing that is.
Not only will we live again following our mortality, but through our faith in Jesus Christ, our repentance, and our keeping the commandments, we can be forgiven of our sins and one day stand clean and pure before our Father and His Son.”Neil L. Anderson
I’m sure there are more lessons coming from the lawn mower. And I hope I have the patience and calmness I need when those lessons come.
Sometimes, in spite of all we do to ‘make weak things become strong,’ the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, does not take away our weakness. The Apostle Paul struggled throughout his life with ‘a thorn in the flesh,’ which he said served to humble him ‘lest [he] should be exalted above measure’ (2 Corinthians 12:7). Three times Paul asked the Lord to take away his weakness, and three times the Lord declined to do so. The Lord then explained that His grace was sufficient for Paul and that, in fact, His strength was actually ‘made perfect in weakness.’ Then Paul wrote, ‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”Anne C. Pingree