I’m aware of the dangers of becoming technologically dependent at such a young age, and we try to be careful to limit her use of the phone – it is largely a treat for good behavior, as well as a time-killer in doctors’ offices. But it has been endearing to see her take to writing little notes to the people she loves. Sometimes these are brief messages to see how people are doing, sometimes reminders to her parents to pick up the right stuff at the store. Here is a typical email:
Guess what Dad for my reading book I got a book that said Snowboarding Dairy. Snowboarding is your favorite right????? Daddy. I love you so so so much. and I miss you so much I’m crying right now because I miss you Daddy. I hope when you come back from slat lack we can go Snowboarding together Daddy. I love you so so so much daddy.
Well um I already poop’t in your bed. But mommy cleans so she clean the bed.
No I’m not going to take a bath. I don’t even smell bad DADDY!!!!!!. I love you so so so so so so much. you are my favorite person in the whole universe. i love you so so so so so so much.
To me, it’s all adorable, and it’s the highlight of my day when I see something in my inbox from her. Sometimes I can’t understand what she’s talking about, and sometimes she’s just asking for stuff, and sometimes she’s just grumpy. But I miss it when I don’t get messages from her, and I hope the other kids will also send me emails once in a while. I enjoy reading her emails not just because they are amusing, but because they are snapshots into what she’s thinking about and how she is growing or developing. It’s magical to hear from her, even when the messages are just random thoughts.
I imagine that most of our efforts to communicate with God are childlike – constantly asking for things, begging for things, complaining. Our thoughts wander during prayer and our messages to him are primitive, barely making sense. Sometimes I feel embarrassed at how inarticulate and how impatient my prayers must sound. He’s the prime mover of the universe — it is audacious for me to address Him at all, let alone to be so demanding, so clumsy and so brief. I feel stupid: stupid (at my best) for my half-hearted utterances, stupid (at my worst) when I feel like I am talking to myself in the dark.
And yet — God has commanded us to pray to Him always. He has asked us to trouble him with our lives, to pray over our flocks and to seek comfort from Him. The thought is moving. We are to be as importunate widows, even though that seems rude at least and stunningly bold for us to act towards a Creator. Why has God asked us to do this? If God as a Heavenly Father feels at all like a father here in mortality, does He crave hearing from us as much as I await my daughter’s emails? I know that there are limits to how we can expect the heavenly parents to act like mortal ones, but the desire to connect with your children is primal and superlative. I have hope that this is part of godly attributes that we are to cling to and cultivate as best we can.
Even more than this, if my gut instincts about the goal of the temple and sealing ordinances are correct, this yearning towards our children is such a force as to help fuel the bonds throughout the entire human family. God promises that those who seek His face can be adopted into His royal family, freeing us from slavery. Paul’s words are bold:
…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Paul speaks in terms of suffering and death of the body, but I feel in my gut that the cries of “Father!” go beyond the cross to include familial cries of joy as well. I feel like I am a child of God when I am with my family. The great sealing chain back to Adam is forged not just through salvific ordinances but through the hearts turning to each other. I would argue that without the hearts of the children and parents turning to each other, the ordinances are of no use and the adoption is incomplete.
Some of this is just speculation, but it feels right to me. I hope it is right. I also hope that God does want to hear from us. I hope that there is somewhere out there a creator who feels towards us the feelings of a tender parent, and that hope fuels the work we engage in here below — to cast forever in loving bonds those ties of genuine affection that are the essence of family.