In a March 1998 Friend article, Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy wrote touchingly about his own son that is intellectually disabled. Then he shared a favorite scripture: Third Nephi 26:14. You’ll remember this moment during Christ’s visit to the Nephites.
“And it came to pass that He did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and He did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than He had revealed unto the people.”
Commenting on the passage, Elder Zwick marveled . . . “The children taught their parents things beyond what the Savior Himself had taught them!”
Think about that.
He then added, surely out of his own experience . . . “I think a disabled child can be like those Nephite children.”
The Savior has certainly endeavored to teach me important principles over the years … and we know He is the Master Teacher. But some of the most important gospel principles did not become sealed in my heart . . . until Matt taught them to me.
Doctrine & Covenants 121 tells us we are only to influence those in our stewardship . . . including our children certainly . . . by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, kindness . . . love unfeigned.
We’re all trying our best to do that, right? But when we occasionally “lose it,” particularly with family members, we mostly get away with it.
Matt, however, can only be led in that kind of Christ-like manner. And it can’t be faked. The slightest hint of anger, a borderline harsh tone or facial expression . . . and he freezes up. I lose any cooperation from him. I must, in the words of Matt’s favorite Primary song, “be gentle and loving in deed and in thought.” It’s as though Matt can’t bear anything else.
I’m far from perfect in this. But the self-discipline Matt’s nature requires of me has inevitably improved my relationship with him, my other children, my husband, the Sunbeams we teach . . . really, everybody with whom I interact. He has been in this, as in many things, my teacher.