A few weeks ago we had an interesting thing happen at our house, and I have been thinking about it on and off ever since. Tonight we had a really simple FHE where we talked about that experience and likened it to the Atonement and how it applies in our lives. I thought I would share in the hopes that this will help others as you try to teach your children about the wonderful gift of the Atonement.
I think the Atonement can be a really difficult subject to help little ones understand. We often tell them that Jesus died for us...but what does that REALLY mean? How does Jesus dying help us? I know my kids haven't always quite grasped the principle and I have struggled with ways to teach them on their level. Then we had a simple experience that showed them exactly what the Atonement has done for us, and why it was necessary.
A few weeks ago my daughter Kendall was just plain being a stinker. We were going to go get snow cones as a family, but I kept warning her if she didn't change her behaviors she would not get one. She continued to ignore my warnings and finally I said, "Kendall, if you hit your sister one more time you are NOT getting a snow cone!" Not more than 5 minutes later I walked in the room just in time to see her give her sister a big swat on the leg.
I did what I had to do, and told her calmly that she had lost her chance for a snow cone. She was devastated. Screaming and crying, over and over saying how sorry she was and that she just wanted one more chance. I wanted so badly to give her that chance, but I KNEW I had to stick to what I said or she would never take me seriously. It was really, really hard. I love her, and so wanted her to be able to enjoy that snow cone that we had been looking forward to all day.
As we were getting ready to leave, my oldest daughter Skylar ran up to me, holding her wallet, and said, "MOM! What if I use MY money to buy Kendall a snow cone?!"
It was the perfect solution. Being a responsible parent, I could not go back on my word, and their had to be justice, or consequences, for my little girls actions. However, by her sister being willing to pay the price for her snow cone, Kendall was able to receive mercy and after apologizing and changing her behaviors receive the same treat she had been looking forward to all day.
It was so easy tonight to tie this experience into understanding the Atonement. We helped our children see, that just like we try to do, Heavenly Father is bound by what He says. He has said no unclean thing can dwell with him, and just by human nature, we will ALL fall short of being able to return to Him. However, because a loving Savior, our brother, Jesus Christ, was willing to pay for OUR sins, (just as Skylar paid for Kendall's snow cone), we are able to obtain mercy and live forever with our Heavenly Father and our families.
Such a powerful lesson from the littlest ones in our family! I hope this experience helped my children understand just a little bit more about the Atonement...I think it did. It encouraged me to think even more on the infinite gift of the Atonement in my life, and make sure that my Savior's sacrifice for me was not in vain. A few years ago I took an institute class with my sister in law and I will NEVER forget one thing our instructor said. He said one of the apostles had said in a talk given at the MTC that as important as it was to teach our children about the commandments...it is SO much more important to teach them of the Atonement. The fact is, every child will sin. They have to understand there is a way back, that no sin is ever too great, and that because of the price paid in Gethsemane by a loving Savior it is NEVER too late.
I hope you all had a wonderful family night and I would love to hear any suggestions...how have YOU taught your children about the Atonement?!