Hannah Whithall Smith
Her Daughter’s Transformation
Introduction: These paragraphs are taken from a chapter of Hannah's book The Unselfishness of God, where she describes how her daughter overcame a willful attitude. I include this in the thought that many children have willful attitudes and might need the kind of help Hanah's daughter obtained.
My daughter, who was at this time about seven or eight years old, had begun to develop a spirit of great willfulness which I had found very hard to control. She herself recognized that it was wrong, and tried to conquer it, but she seemed somehow possessed.
One day she came to me with a very puzzled air and said, “Mother, what is the reason I am so naughty? I know I am a little Christian girl, and I thought Christians were always good; but though I try as hard as I can to make myself good, I just can’t help being naughty.”
I could sympathize with the child from my own experience, and I said, “I expect, darling, that the reason is just because you do try to make yourself good. We never can make ourselves good, let us try as hard as we may. Only our Heavenly Father can make us good, and we must just trust Him to do it. Whenever you feel tempted to be naughty, if you will tell Him all about it, and ask Him to make you good, and then will trust Him to do it, He will be sure to take all your naughty away.”
The child remained silent for a while, and then said thoughtfully, “Oh 1 did not know that. I always thought you had to put your will into it, and just do it yourself.” And she walked thoughtfully away, having evidently got hold of an entirely new idea.
I very soon noticed a great change in her; all her willfulness seemed to have disappeared, and she was as biddable and gentle as a lamb. I said nothing, as I did not want to intrude roughly into delicate ground, but two or three days afterwards, as she was sitting on the ﬂoor of her nursery playing with her dolls, I heard her saying softly to herself, in a tone of subdued exultation, “Oh, I am so glad Heavenly Father is making me so good. It feels so nice to be good.”
Still I said nothing, but a few nights later, when I was tucking her up in bed she burst out with, “Oh, mother, aren’t you glad Heavenly Father is making me so good? He is going to make me a great deal gooder, but aren’t you glad He has made me as good as He has thus far?”
Then, as I hugged and kissed her, and rejoiced with her, she added solemnly, “Mother, do you tell everybody about this?” I replied that I tried to, but she was not satisﬁed, and said, “But, mother, you must not only try to, you must really do it every time you preach, for I expect there are lots of people like I was, who want to be good and don’t know how, and you ought to tell every single person you meet.”
Taken from Hannah Whithall Smith’s Unselﬁshness of God