I once translated a child-rearing guide from Japanese into English. It was an interesting project–not only because I had to figure out an appropriate way to translate baby-talk, but also because the down-to-earth, loving advice it gave was so thought-provoking.
One page of that child-rearing guide that’s stuck with me was the advice on how to handle a two-year-old’s tantrums. Apparently two-year-olds in any country don’t like to be told what to do. The guide talked about giving the child time to calm the voice in his heart crying, “IYA!” (“I DON’T WANT TO!”)
When I read that, I realized I totally have a voice in my heart that cries “IYA!”
As a matter of fact, I’ve encountered it a lot since returning to the Church. I’ve learned that there is my will, and then there is God’s will, and no, they’re not the same thing. As they say, He doesn’t grant all our requests in the same way that parents don’t grant their kids’ requests to eat chocolate every day for breakfast. In the end, God’s will is what will make me happy, although that can be hard to accept in the moment. The challenge is getting past the “IYA!”
I’m still working on that, but observing the obedience of the Japanese led to a major breakthrough for me. The way they would rush to obey orders with a military-crisp “Understood!” must’ve made something click inside me. Perhaps I realized the beauty–the romance, even–of obedience. To be obedient is to pledge oneself wholly to something greater than oneself. It is to become a knight.
At any rate, I remember clearly when, after returning from Japan for the first time at the age of 25, my mother asked me to put away the dishes. I was surprised at myself to find that the voice that cries “IYA!” was silent.