Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Better than we are?

One night last week after having our local missionaries over for dinner, one of them asked, as they always do,
if he could leave us with a blessing. Of course. A very lovely prayer, but one line of it intrigued me.

He said in his prayer, "Bless us that we will help people to be better than ourselves." 

I don't think I've ever heard anyone pray for that. I kept thinking about it and then the next morning Den and I discussed it. I said it out loud, "Help people be better than ourselves?" Not that I'm saying we are so great....but it's an interesting concept wanting more goodness for others than we want for ourselves.

He asked me why that line surprises me. So then I added, "I suppose this really would be brotherly love at its finest, right?"

Then he asked very simply, "Isn't that what we want for our children?" 

Absolutely! Yes, I've always wanted my children to have more blessings in every way, more than I want it for myself. I think most parents feel this way. So why should that desire not extend towards everyone?

This makes me think of a quote (on my friend Rebecca's blog),
by Benjamin Franklin: "When you are good to others, you are best to yourself." 

Or how about this quote I saw recently:
"When you seek happiness for yourself it often eludes you.
  When you seek happiness for others, you find it yourself."

Perhaps we can't separate the two? Sort of a "what goes around comes around?"
I'm still trying to figure this out. Any thoughts?


Tamara Swerline said...

That is a lovely prayer offering! If you don't mind, I believe I will begin incorporating it in my own prayer time! It is powerful. You are so right about what it is we wish for our children and their lives, unto the next generation and on and on. I often hope and pray that as I pass through this life, I will leave the earth a better place than it was.

Rebecca said...

Hummmmmmm. Interesting. As usual I probably have a different take on things than others. This rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I think for two reasons. 1. We are all God's Children and equal in his eyes. 2. I feel like we should not even be bothering with ideas in our head of who is better than who. I think it is ok to pray that we can help people, but I don't necessarily think we need to even have thoughts of who is "better than who" Interesting topic though and I am anxious to see the comments here!

Grandma Honey said...

I didn't even think of it like that Rebecca, so I'm glad you brought that up. I don't think of this in terms of who's better than who. That is a waste of time and would get us no where.

My Institute director back in the day said once during one of his lessons: "The greatest compliment you can give your parents is to be better than they are." I asked my Mom at the time if she believed that and she said absolutely. Then when I became a Mom I understood. I did want my kids to be better than I am. I have my weaknesses and I didn't want my kids to have any of those. But I realize we ALL have our weaknesses and it's unrealistic to think we would have perfect's unrealistic for anyone to think that. But yeah, given a choice, I would want my kids to have the best of everything. Good thing I'm not in charge of that because they wouldn't grow much would they?

Lisa said...

I've thought long & hard along those same lines ever since Bro Paul spoke in Sacrament about Charity. He said something along the lines of, "The true love of God is Charity" mentioning that we usually pray for ourselves but as we mature, we pray for ourselves & our families & friends but then at some point as you grow closer to God's love your concern seems to shift outward away from just you & your family

I asked him for the talk so I have a copy of it but it resonated with me & now that you've brought it up....I'm going to go back & read it! THANKS again for uplifting thoughts!

Lisa said...

1 Cor 13 spells out the whole theme of what I think this post is all about. Considering the missionary is on the Lord's errand, he is concerned about everybody.

I went back & read the talke & found it very profound. What I didn't catch was how after we find faith & hope we begin to grow in charity. What I forgot was at first we turn to HF for ourselves, then our family & friends but eventually you are concerned about your enemies!
Think how prophets have tried to teach their own people but then turned their hearst towards their enemies. ANyways.....that's my thoughts on this topic! More than you wanted to know I bet! Haha....xoxo

Grandma Honey said...

I've read your comments with great interest Lisa. I remember that talk and how much I appreciated it at the time. I would love to read it again....any chance I can borrow it from you?

I also think the phrase of "better than ourselves" is not a good one like Rebecca pointed out. I think the word 'happier' should replace 'better.'

Nearly 30 years ago when I was pregnant with McKay my friend's sister was also pregnant, but with twins. One of the babies was born too early and died. She was put in the hospital for several weeks trying to save the 2nd unborn twin. Sadly that twin ended up dying also. We were all incredibly sad for her and her family. Soon McKay was born and this woman sent me a darling knitted hat and sweater for McKay (that I still have). I've never forgotten how she found it in herself to be happy for me while she was grieving. To me, this woman got the concept of being happier for me than she was for herself.

Grandma Honey said...

Tamara~ I wish for the very same things! The older I get, the more I want this.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this in terms of wanting my children to be better parents than I was. Like, I hope they will be more patient and learn how to deal with the anger that naturally comes up as parents. I never thought I did well enough at that. I hope they will take better care of themselves than I did. I think I'm just figuring that out now at age 64!

Scrapally said...

That was a sweet prayer he offered. I don't think he meant better like in a competition, but just helping people and loving them more than ourselves. True charity. I like the thought of "happier" too. I always tell my kids I just want them to be happy. But I do want them to be better too! :) We can all become better than we are. I love missionaries...they give us a lot to ponder on!

Sue said...

That's an interesting thought, Jill. One I will be thinking about for a few days, I think.