As the lights dimmed in North Medford High School’s Sjolund Auditorium, my nine year daughter put her little hand in mine and with my other I held my wife’s hand.
Captain von Trapp blew his whistle for the youngest to step forward.
My daughter looked up and with her smile whispered, “She’s so cute!”
I smiled and rubbed the back of her hand on my beard and she laid her head on my shoulder. More whispers came later:
A gasp from my daughter
“Do you think they really kissed?”
“But what if they are married?”
“They aren’t. They are just teenagers.”
“What? But they look so old!”
Later a giggle as she looked up at me.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
With her smile she whispered, “They said Storm Troopers!”
“Oh. Yea. Star Wars got that name from the Germans.”
“Oh.” she replied.
During the first act I thought, “We should buy this movie.”
About two days prior to this event my wife had mentioned that one of our high schools was doing a performance of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, The Sound of Music. She thought it would be fun to go with our daughters and I agreed. It was the 50 year anniversary of the movie after all. Now, this might not sound all that interesting, but let me give you the backstory.
I grew up with all boys with exception of my sister who was born right before my mission. I didn’t like musicals – which probably isn’t much different than most boys. To be honest, I still don’t like musicals. I’m just not a cultured dude. I had seen The Sound of Music when I was young. I also saw West Side Story after reading the script for my freshman English class. And to be honest, I kind of like making fun of those two musicals. I’ve been known to break out singing, “I am sixteen, going on seventeen. Innocent as a rose,” while in the operating room. I mean, that’s just funny. And who doesn’t like a dude crouching down, snapping his fingers and singing, “The Jets are gonna have their day tonight!!! The Sharks are gonna have their way tonight! Tonight! Tonight! Won’t be just any night…” Or suddenly yelling, “Cracko jacko!!! Womb to tomb. Sperm to womb!” It’s a guaranteed laugh. I promise.
But wait. It gets worse. My brother, Paul, and I were lousy sons.
As a teenager, after opening all our Christmas presents, there was one present that remained. None of us knew from whom the gift was or to whom the gift belonged. There was no label or markings on the wrapping paper. But the wrapping paper was the same that our family used for wrapping gifts that year. Somehow my mom knew. She knew the gift was for her. My brother, Paul, and I were just confused. She opened it and it was a VHS copy of The Sound of Music. “I knew no one would buy it for my so I bought it for myself,” our mom said.
My brother and I are horrible people.
You see, I am a neanderthal. But when my wife asked if I wanted to go see The Sound of Music, without hesitation, I said, “Yes.” Daughters will just get into your heart and change you. They bring perspective and beauty to your life. You appreciate and notice things that you haven’t before noticed. As I sat in the auditorium, with my nine-year-old smiling, whispering questions to me, head on my shoulder, I wondered:
Do we, as children of Heavenly Parents, provide perspective that they might not have noticed? Do they continue learning and growing as a result of their interactions with us, as I have grown and changed through interactions with my own children?
For traditional creedal Christianity (and for most Mormons), this is a heretical idea. For God is a necessary being. In fact, he is the only necessary being. That is, God could not, not exist. This is in contrast to humans (and the universe), which are contingent upon God. That is, human beings (and the universe) could possibly not exist, for God brought all into existence ex nihilo. Since God is a necessary being, He (I’m working within the context of traditional Christianity) does not depend on us to point things out to Him.
But I disagree. We need God and God needs us.
Consider these two passages of scripture:
“And Yaweh said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people..I know their sorrows…behold the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh…” (Exodus 3:7,9,)
“..and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.” (Exodus 2:23-25)
I suspect that sometimes our Heavenly Parents point us to where we can alleviate sorrow in the world. Perhaps sometimes we need to direct the hearts of Heavenly Father and Mother to suffering that only They can alleviate. Maybe sometimes we need the paradigm shift and sometimes They do. Sometimes our hearts need to be softened and sometimes it is Theirs. In my mind prayer should not be a monologue, but a wrestle, a debate with deity.
When I was a teenager sitting in the back seat with my brothers I would sometimes see my dad looking at us through the rearview mirror. Although I could not see his entire face I could see his eyes. And his eyes were smiling. I never understood that until I became a father.
Now when I look at my Edelweisses in the rearview mirror, I understand my father’s smiling eyes. For my daughters have changed my heart.
This is so sweet and insightful! I long for the day when I see my daughter through the mirror:’) so muuch cognitive dissonance but I loved it!!
I like this. I was talking to a friend last Sunday and said something to the effect that, “God wouldn’t exist without us. We are His work and His glory. He would have no purpose if it were not for us. He will never give up on us – either as a people or as individuals…in this sense, perhaps we ARE God”. Don’t think that I’m self-aggrandizing here – it’s just very comforting to realize the relationship we have with Him. It explains the love, the interdependency, the perfection. It explains the joy that inexplicably comes when we become one with Him -it is our PURPOSE to become one with Him and He with us. Very existential, no?
JST changes some of those passages I think…but I would say Goad is all knowing. ..but not all experienced. Meaning Jehovah was probably omniscient before earth, but by suffering all things as a mortal knew how to succor his people. The question then is if time is not linear for God did he already know what he would come to know through future experience?
Sorry for typo
I’m glad that your daughters (and wife) are changing your heart. But it was a good heart to start with. 🙂
I have learned some of life’s greatest lessons about God through my children. It is hard for me to comprehend that He loves us enough to tell us what we should avoid but then says “It’s your choice. Do as you wish but these will be the consequences.” How much it must make our Heavenly Parents weep when Their children chose that which is contrary to their (the children’s) happiness.
Another lesson that I’m learning is the difference between obedience because of duty and because of love. Obedience out of duty will eventually become irritating and restrictive. Loving obedience becomes a way of showing our love and trust. Both to our Heavenly Parents and to our mortal parents.
Your post caused me to consider the omniscience of God. I did some research in the LDS library and found the following quotes if you are interested:
Upon seeing Nephi’s knowledge of secret and hidden things, there were those who wanted to proclaim him to be God. This is understandable given the universal acknowledgment of certain characteristics of God. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that omniscience is one of the characteristics of God: “The Lord in a revelation for John Whitmer spoke of that which was in the latter’s heart, which only the Lord and John Whitmer knew, witnessing that God was omniscient concerning the needs of that individual. (D&C 15:3.) “Paul said to the saints at Corinth, ‘And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.’ (1 Corinthians 3:20.) In the period just before the flood God saw not only the wickedness of man in the earth, but he saw also ‘every imagination of the thoughts’ of men’s hearts. (Genesis 6:5.) He knows ‘the things that come into your mind.’ (Ezekiel 11:5.) Jesus himself said before we pray, ‘Your father knoweth what things ye have need of.’ (Matthew 6:8.) Indeed, as Nephi said, ‘God … knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows.’ (2 Nephi 9:20.) “Hence omniscience is one of the characteristics of the living God. As we read in Helaman 9:41, ‘Except he was a God he could not know of all things.’ ‘And now, behold, you have received a witness; for if I have told you things which no man knoweth have you not received a witness?’ (D&C 6:24.)” (Things As They Really Are , 22).
The Lectures on Faith teach why the omniscience of God is necessary: “Without the knowledge of all things God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him” (, 51–52). •Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained that God must know all things in order to accomplish His work of bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life: “Those who try to qualify God’s omniscience fail to understand that He has no need to avoid ennui [tedium] by learning new things. Because God’s love is also perfect, there is, in fact, divine delight in that ‘one eternal round’ which, to us, seems to be all routine and repetition. God derives His great and continuing joy and glory by increasing and advancing His creations, and not from new intellectual experiences. “There is a vast difference, therefore, between an omniscient God and the false notion that God is on some sort of post-doctoral fellowship, still searching for additional key truths and vital data. Were the latter so, God might, at any moment, discover some new truth not previously known to Him that would restructure, diminish, or undercut certain truths previously known by Him. Prophecy would be mere prediction. Planning assumptions pertaining to our redemption would need to be revised. Fortunately for us, however, His plan of salvation is constantly underway–not constantly under revision. … “In a very real sense, all we need to know is that God knows all!” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience , 14–15, 21).
Tender post. I liked the thinking. I can’t say I concur or not, but I like it.
On a similar note, this past weekend I attended a music recital and two beautifully voiced girls sang Edelweiss. I hadn’t heard it in years, and live even longer. My heart embraced it like a hymn. Tears rolled down my cheeks. My youthful love of the Von Trapps exploded, yet at the same time a love of the goodness of life came forth. I’ve been humming it ever since. I am reaching a point where I want pain to stop and hillsides of Edelweiss to bloom.
I really like this. I’ve long taken the God is learning/progressing approach, but had never considered it from this particular angle. Good stuff.
And yes, daughters are powerful creatures.