Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is fullers' soap anyway?

Reading the Old Testament with the seminary kids. Here are some verses that gave me great food for thought today:

Malachi 3:2-3 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap; And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

So I know what the refiner's fire is. Great heat, burning out the impurities, etc, etc. But what is fullers' soap?

Thank you, google search. On the website of the Church of God's Daily Study, fullers and their tools were described in this way:

"A fuller was someone who cleaned and thickened (to make it "full") freshly-woven (usually woolen) cloth. The process involved cleaning, bleaching, wetting and beating the fibers to a consistent and desirable condition. Fuller's earth was a variety of clay that was used to scour and cleanse the cloth. Fuller's soap was an alkali made from plant ashes which was also used to clean and full new cloth. Since fullers required plenty of running water, along with the natural substances described, a fuller's field was a place where all were available for the fullers to conduct their profession."

So a relationship with the Lord will act to 'clean, bleach, wet and beat' our spiritual fibers to a 'consistent and desirable condition.'

The goal is for us to become 'full'--consistent and desirable. Like the purifying process, it probably isn't much fun at the time, but it works to prepare us to 'make an offering in righteousness' when He arrives.

That puts daily trials and the wickedness around us in a whole new light for me, both for myself and for my children.

It is easy to think Satan is winning in the world right now. There is a lot of wickedness keeping Heavenly Father's children from knowing and coming to the Savior. However, if we can help them come to a knowledge of Him--not just activity in the Church, but gain a testimony and an understanding of the Gospel and a real relationship with Jesus Christ--then they will be made 'full' over time, and their testimonies will become pure and thick and deep.

And this happens not just in spite of the wicknedness around them, but often because of it. When we turn away from sin, we choose for ourselves righteousness.

The cleaning and bleaching come to all of us differently. At the very least, it involves learning to turn away from the things of the world and turning to the Lord. Sometimes it is trials we don't ask for, and sometimes it comes as we make mistakes and then repent.

As parents, it seems like we can help this process by putting the things of God first in our own lives and in our families, taking time to read and pray and go to church and have family home evening and repent.

Pretty awesome and motivating stuff to understand, I think!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Learning about teenagers

Probably the most significant thing I have learned about teenagers in the past year is that just because they are the same size as you does not mean that you can expect adult behavior from them.

It's very tempting. They are suddenly looking you in the eye (or over the top of your head), and much of the time they are very responsible, especially when it comes to things that matter a lot to them, like school or work or relationships with friends.

So you go along, thinking to yourself, "Wow, so and so is so responsible and grown up now." If you are like me, you might even mentally pat yourself on the back for being such a great parent who has raised such a mature child.

And then out of the blue their behavior changes. It may be chores. It may be cleaning up after themselves. It may be total lack of all good judgement in some area that seems so incredibly obvious to a (self-righteous) adult.

You are left shaking your head and can't help but say to the teenager with exasperation, "What on earth were you thinking?!"

After this patterns happens a few times, you wonder what you are doing wrong.

All of a sudden one day, I realized (I'm sure with much nudging from the Holy Ghost) that I was expecting too much.

The truth is, I have been physically just about the same size as my Heavenly Parents for a long time. And I have been bearing and raising children for about 20 years. Yet, I know there has not been an expectation that I be spiritually mature or capable of the same level of parenting as my Heavenly Father shows to me. Mostly what I have felt over the years is lots of love and gentle guidance and encouragement, even as I seem to make the same mistakes over and over.

So it makes most sense to follow D&C 121. Long suffering. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Love unfeigned.

Did I mention long suffering?

For instance, I am finding that, when the teenager does not clean up after himself properly, it helps to think back to when I was young. I don't think I cleaned up after myself properly even through college! (So sorry college roommates. ) So when that teenager comes back around, rather than jump down his throat, I can gently and with more compassion explain what my concern is and do a little teaching.

Or when the teenager makes a poor decision, I can try to remember that he or she is just learning, and I can try to show kindness and gentleness as the consequences of that decision (so often naturally occurring) come to pass.

I am not very good at this now. It takes a LOT of patience, unselfishness, swallowing of my pride, looking at things differently, and self control. Basically teenagers are a fabulous lesson in learning to follow the Savior. Thank goodness we have a long line of teenagers to practice on!