Love Unfeigned

Matt WheelerIn 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.


7 Responses to “Love Unfeigned”

  1. Beth Low

    Lisa, you are an amazing woman. I cannot even imagine you losing your patience with anything. I’m sure you have your moments, but you are such a great example. Matt makes me happy every time I see him. I love how he serves others without ever thinking twice about it. It’s just his nature. You are definitely Heavenly Father’s gift to each other.

  2. Sarah

    This is a beautiful lesson. It is amazing how many avenues the Savior can use to teach us. Matt is definitely an instrument for the Lord to share His teachings with others.

  3. Annie Boxell Annie Boxell

    On top of everything else, that is one handsome young man!!!

  4. Kate Farrer

    I always think of Matty Man when I start to “lose it” with my own sweet babies. I know that if I try to use a kind tone of voice and gentle hand my children respond in a much more positive way.

  5. Debbie Jorde

    Hi, Lisa. It’s so good to find you well! Your post is beautiful and this site is very well done! You are an inspiring woman and you are beautiful:-) Love and best wishes.

  6. Antonio Carlos Barbosa

    [Obrigado por compartilhar momentos tão especial com o Matt, estou ajudando a minha esposa a ajudar ás lideres da primaria, da nossa estaca a importância de como ajudar os filhos especiais do Pai Celestial aqui na nossa Estaca no Brasil,gostaria de autorização para compartilhar este site com os outros membros? muito obrigado.]

    Thank you for sharing moments so special with Matt. I’m helping my wife to help leaders of primary in our stake the importance of how to help the special children of Heavenly Father here in our stake in Brazil. I would like to share this site with the other members. Thank you very much.

    • Lisa Riska Lisa Riska

      We’d be thrilled to have you spread the word about The Liahona Project in Brazil. Does your family include a special needs child?

      [Teremos o maior prazer em ter você espalhar a palavra sobre a Liahona Project no Brasil. A sua família incluem a necessidades especiais crianças?]