On my mission in Hong Kong, I met a number of people who shocked me. The woman I am thinking of today was in her early twenties, well-educated and happy. She agreed to sit down with us at a park to learn more about God’s Plan of Salvation. She listened attentively, asked questions and then everything changed when I said, “…and God has prepared a way so we can live with our families forever.”
She narrowed her eyes and said, “Why would I want that?”
“Well,” I began, “we love our families. They are our secure base in the world. They love us even when we are not loveable..”
She shook her head. “I don’t want to live with my family forever. I don’t even want to live with them right now.”
Everything went down hill from there. She ended up walking away with a curt “thanks-but-no-thanks.”
I realize how naive I must have been to assume everyone loves their family enough to jump for joy at the thought of being with them forever. Families around the world and across the years of history fall on a spectrum ranging from despicably deplorable to positively heaven-like. However, even while knowing this all too well, God still sets in front of His children the idea that families can be together forever.
The family is ordained of God. (The Family, A Proclamation To The World)
For being ordained of God, sometimes I think how family brings out the worst in me! (Once a few years ago in a heated moment my son, after watching “Prince of Egypt,” asked me, “Are you so mad that you are going to sell me to Egypt?” Since then, that has been our joke- “If you don’t come over here right this very minute I’m going to sell you to Egypt!” It is great at diffusing angry little moments. =) In the photo below, Joseph had two children sit down and come up with solutions to constant bickering. Please notice the crossed out idea that they came up with. haha!)
It is easy to bite my tongue and hold back a comment when I’m with people I don’t know well. I can shrug off the slight from a stranger at the post office. It isn’t too difficult hide any frustration at a slower bagger at the store.
But then we return home to our family.
The ‘filter’ thins and more comes out. We say the mean comment to our sister. We become defensive when we feel slighted by our spouse. We don’t even attempt to hide our frustration at our child. Why?
The more familiar something or someone is, the more likely we are to take it for granted. The natural man may notice the beautiful mountains on the first day he moved somewhere. But, after a lifetime of living in the shadow of a majestic peak, will he still step outside and allow himself to be overcome by the mountain’s beauty?
Fighting against the dulling properties of the routine is a spiritual endeavor! We see our family members everyday. Pray to see them with eyes that see. Pray to hear them with ears that hear. With God’s help, we can maintain our appreciation for them, we can feel renewed love for them each day, and we can treat them with the respect and love fitting for a person dear to us.
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Matthew 13:15-16)
Satan wins when we are ‘dulled’ to the repetitive things, people and momentsin our lives. Satan wins when we close our eyes to the magnificence of the people with whom we live. Satan wins when we maintain our ‘best’ selves for our friends and acquaintances, but let down our ‘filter’ at home. We give Satan control of our family when we no longer give a fresh attempt to the never-ending challenge of treating our families with love and patience.
The family is ordained of God not because it is a perfect place– but because it is a place where people are learning to be perfect.
The truth is that our families should get the best of us.
We might all ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our Church calling or professional pursuits? (Tad R. Callister)
Thanks for studying with me today!
S: (Prayer/Ask) Please help me learn something about families that will give me a renewed desire to give my best self to my family.
- These words from King Benjamin:
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)
- Read these powerful words from Elder L. Tom Perry. Think about what he is asking all family members to do.
It is my firm conviction that there has never been a period in my many years of life when our Father in Heaven’s children have needed the guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents more. We have a great and noble heritage of parents giving up almost everything they possess to find a place where they could rear their families with faith and courage so the next generation would have greater opportunities than had been theirs. We must find within ourselves that same determined spirit and overcome the challenges we face with the same spirit of sacrifice. We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.
- I love these words from Elder Uchtdorf. Think about how knowing God loves you empowers you to try harder rather than indicts you for weaknesses.
Yes, God loves you this very day and always.
He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you.
And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own.
- Have you ever noticed that a grumpy mood towards your family members is suppressed as soon as you start interacting with a co-worker, friend, or store-clerk? Why do these outside people have this effect on us? Why does being around family members not ‘force’ us to suppress our mood? How would things be different if we could switch these two?
- One blessing of family is that we can let down our guard and be ourselves. How can we find a balance between keeping ourselves disciplined enough to be kind but also comfortable enough that it still feels like family?
- Do you really want to live with your family forever? Why or why not?
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: Please help me learn something about families that will give me a renewed desire to give my best self to my family.) Also consider writing down the following:
- Think of someone in your family who you feel like treats others the same as he or she treats their family. Make a point later to tell them how much you appreciate their equal kindness across the board.
- Write down the name of a person in your family who brings out the ‘worst’ in you. Pray to see them with new eyes.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: Find a person in your family to reconcile with- you could take the moment to apologize or just take the moment to tell them how much they mean to you. Be sincere and specific.
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