Being at YW In Excellence last night got me thinking about what I'm able to give to my daughter, and also what I can't give. I can give her my love and support. I can share my testimony, my experiences, my knowledge. I can give my time and energy. But I can't give her a testimony of her own. I can't make her want to learn what I know, and I can't give her my desire and determination to live the gospel. It's a frustrating situation to want to convince a child that their Heavenly Father knows and loves them, but to know that ultimately that is something they have to learn on their own. I can be an example to her and show her the way, but I can't drag her along the path.
I'd imagine that Heavenly Father often feels the same way about each of us. He wants us to live up to our potential, to eagerly reach for those blessings He has waiting for us, and to make a determined effort to draw close to Him. But we all fall short. Sometimes it's because of rebelliousness, other times it's sheer laziness, and there are plenty of times when it's just ignorance and lack of understanding. He is the ultimate parent, though. He gives us the tools and resources to learn more of Him, gives us guidance and direction, and then gently prods us to take advantage of them. Sometimes He has to get more firm with us and give us a "time-out" or other punishment to get our attention, but as long as we are trying and doing He seems to give us a lot of time and patience to get to where we need to be.
Being human, though, I don't always want to wait for my daughter to have "ah-ha" moments. Sometimes I want to lock her in a room with the scriptures and tell her she can't leave until she's read them and felt them touching her heart. I know that wouldn't do any good though. A testimony can't be forced and it can't be passed along. It's something we each have to work to obtain and struggle to enlarge every day of our lives.
So I'll keep trying to follow Heavenly Father's example. I'll give her love and patience, plenty of opportunities for prayer and scripture reading, and lots of support every time she makes an effort. And one day the spirit will touch her heart so strongly that she'll hunger and thirst for more knowledge of her Savior. That will be a happy and blessed day- the kind that every parent wishes, hopes and prays for.