Another guest post from E. Paul Whetten. You can read Paul’s previous post here.
Several days ago I was having a real heart-to-heart discussion with my teenage daughter about obedience. During the discussion I explained to her that my demand for obedience was not a power trip for me. I am larger and stronger than her and, if it came down to it, I could force her to comply with my requests by brute strength (at least until the cops came). My desire for her to be obedient was much more important than my personal ego. I explained that her mother and I have been around the block a few more times than she has and can see things that are beyond the horizons of her personal experience. More importantly, if she learned to be obedient in the small things that we asked of her (i.e. pick up your room, do your homework, stop beating your sister with a board, etc.) then obedience would be easier for her in the big moments of decision. (i.e. – chastity, word of wisdom, tithing, no dating till your 16, etc.)
In the middle of this discussion I had a flashback to when I was 12 years old and my dad was telling me: “Obedience is the 1st law of Heaven, and the sooner you learn that the easier your life will be.”
Here I was, 23 years later, having the same discussion with my daughter. As I remembered that talk with my own dad the whole lesson he was trying to get through to me came together in a blinding moment of clarity. I understood why it was so important to be obedient, and how it really does make life easier once you have that lesson learned. I understood what Dad was saying and why.
Another revelation to me was that my dad’s lessons actually got through my thick head and were still there to help me as an adult. I felt an overwhelming love for Dad and all of the times he taught me life’s lessons and then repeated them over and over again. It also gave me great hope that the things I am telling my own kids are getting through to them and will one day help them out when they need it. Who knows? Maybe my daughter will have this discussion with her oldest child and remember her dad saying: “If you learn to be obedient in the small things, then it will be easy to be obedient to the big things.” And maybe, just maybe, she will feel like saying what I am saying to my Dad in this post: “Thanks Dad!”