Becoming an eternal family: This Life is the time to prepareI grew up in a family of 6 a crazy family of 6, and I love every one of them. I remember waking up at 6:30 in the mornings to read scriptures and pray as a family before my older siblings ran off to school. We each took a turn reading and then closed our eyes to “listen” to the story as everyone else got a turn. With nudges from mom and dad to wake up. I remember Monday evenings consisted of “Once there was a snow man”, popcorn, the Book of Mormon, and someone quarreling with someone else and my mom singing “let us all speak kind words to each other” or “Love at Home” (They were interchangeable.) I remember going to church each Sunday with mom just grateful we all made it in one piece, and Dad passing out tootsie rolls to keep our mouths busy. I loved church. My family was strong in the gospel and active at church.
My mom and dad taught me from a young age how important it was to be kind, and do as the Savior would do and I am so thankful for them. I am the way I am today because of all the little things they have instilled in me to do. I have been learning how to get along with my family now so I will know how to be with them forever.
Today I have been asked to talk about becoming an eternal family, that this life is the time to prepare.
Eternal families are how God has intended his Children to live from the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve. They were married and sealed together by the power of God. And when Jesus Christ was on the earth he gave that same divine authorization to Peter, when he promised: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
With the falling away of Christ’s church for a period of time, that authorization was gone with it. And without it no eternal families….Thankfully, it was restored back to the earth so we could be blessed by it once again. That is why we are married in the temple.
I honestly never knew just how important this blessing was until here serving my mission. I knew I was blessed by it because my parents were married in the temple. They were sealed by that same power to be together with their family for time and all eternity. But I never knew the other side of that. I sat the other day and thought of how it would be if I didn’t have a guarantee of being with my family. If I didn’t know the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored and along with it this amazing gift from a loving Father. How differently I would act, I probably wouldn’t be very close with my siblings. My heart ached just imagining not having that. I see it every day when we knock on doors or when we talk to families who are broken because of the world. I know from growing up watching my mom and dad that eternal families are something you work for, something you fight for. My little brother was saddened because of the choices and judgments of members of the church that he didn’t want to go anymore. So he didn’t. I watched it break my mom’s heart. I saw her kneel in prayer by her bed every morning and stand up in faith knowing that the Lord had this in his hands. I love my mom and her faith. I came on a mission because of her faith, and with me being on a mission it softened his heart. He saw how important it was to me and how many lives I was touching daily and that I was teaching the gospel of “Good News” to everyone. His perspective widened and he recognized how much he needed the atonement in his life. He came back to church and read his scriptures again. He just entered the mission field to serve our Savior in Boston. I am so proud of him.
The atonement is something that we are all needing to access. There is no one here who cannot be helped or reached or picked up from where ever you may be by the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is again another amazing gift from our Heavenly Father to enable us to change. To become more like Christ and to live happier more fuller lives. One of my favorite Scriptures in the book of Mormon says, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Our Mission President is all about absolutes. He always points out promises in the scriptures and helps us see how we can obtain them. Something interesting about this scripture is that there aren’t any absolutes. And you ask “Well, then why is this your favorite.” The scripture says “and men are that they might have joy.” We chose to come to earth, to gain a body, and to live in a place that we have to CHOOSE to have joy. Agency or the gift to choose is one of the most important gifts God gave us. We choose to have joy.
No matter what our circumstances may be… When we choose to access the atonement we can find joy in anything... We just have to see the cup half full… not half empty.
When I was at a really difficult time in my mission I remember writing my mom and asking for advice. I had prayed and prayed and tried to keep my cup half full, but just found myself feeling as if I was drowning in the missionary life. I couldn’t connect with the people, my companion, or the ward. I put on a face of happiness but inside I was searching for comfort of some kind. My wise mother counseled me “to kneel in humility, and to stand in confidence in the promises of my Father in Heaven.” I needed to show my faith in my Savior. I remember kneeling in prayer and as I knelt in humility, I felt a wave of comfort wash over me that I hadn’t felt in a long while. I allowed, I chose to let, my Savior in, I had stopped doing it on my own and really listened, and then stood up in confidence knowing I would be ok. And I was.
She is a great example to me. How I had allowed the business and loudness of the world cloud my ability to communicate with my Heavenly Father. I had been praying, but not humbly enough to really accept which answer I was going to get. I didn’t get the answer I was wanting but I got the comfort I needed.
Elder Richard G Scott a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. There is always more to do and more to accomplish. Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and reenergize to prepare for future pressures.
The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece.”
How true it is, when we center our lives and our homes on our Savior it becomes a safe haven from this changing world. I always knew I would be safe in my house because we were careful what we brought into our home… From the media to our attitudes.
My mom would always say “This is a safe place, leave all that is weighing you down in the garbage can outside. If you want to pick it up again with you when you leave you can, or you can just leave it there and have a better day.” Our homes are safe places, and if it isn’t yet. Make it one. And it’s everyone’s job to make it that way. President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “In an eternal sense, salvation is a family affair…” and I say, it can start with you. Choose each day to be a little kinder, put the dishes in the sink, or do a siblings chore. Our constant goal in life should be to live each day as if the Savior were by our side. To be obedient, “don’t rationalize future happiness by taking shortcuts instead of applying sound gospel principles. Remember “By small and simple things. Great things are brought to pass.”… “Simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings.”
So how do we prepare? We live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each and every day we nourish our faith in Jesus Christ, we repent and change to become more like him, we make and keep covenants or promises with Heavenly Father, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. When this is repeated throughout our lives it becomes a pattern of living, and is the only way of living that will bring peace of conscience and enable us to live with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence.
In “The Family: A proclamation to the world” it says, “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”
However, just as I stated earlier Satan is attacking the family, and the world is tearing it apart. People are using the philosophies of man to run their homes rather than the commandments of God, and then wondering why their lives are falling apart? It breaks my heart to see people become so selfish they separate themselves from their loved ones. Too many families are being destroyed because of Satan’s efforts. God doesn’t want this. Through the light of the gospel, families can resolve misunderstandings, contentions, and challenges. Families torn by discord can be healed through repentance, forgiveness, and faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Preach my Gospel states that “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
I know from personal experience, we had a family reunion a few years ago. It had been the first time in 5 years that all of us, spouses and kids included, were together. I don’t know about everyone else, but when we all got together the mix was different. Years of not being together and knowing each other’s personalities really put a wedge in the family, we didn’t mesh as well as normal and a lot can happen in 5 years that can fester and grow and if not handled right when it should can really get destructive. One night as we were cleaning up after dinner something happened that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and chaos ensued. We all separated and cooled off for a few hours, and I will forever be indebted and thankful for my dad. Who kindly and gently brought us all back together to talk… We sat and talked with one another each getting a turn to speak. As we talked hearts were mended, forgiveness was given and received, and our family became stronger than ever. My dad fought for out eternal family. As we talked that night we also fought for our eternal family, and I am so thankful for the gospel for this to be possible. It brings peace to my heart knowing that just as my family was mended, every other family who has ever been broken can as well. The love our Father in Heaven has for all of us in unconditional. We need to give that same love to our families.
This life is the time to prepare. Right now. We can change because of Christ, be better, and choose to have joy. As we read from our scriptures daily, and pray and talk with our Heavenly Father we will know exactly what we need to do to prepare. Just as my family did the little things as I was growing up, so can each of you. I have such fond memories of my childhood and the dedication my parents had to the gospel.
Each one of us can be that example in each of our families. I am so excited to see the blessings of eternal families continue to play out in my life, to marry in the temple and to have an eternal family of my own. We can’t afford to not have the blessings of the temple. If you don’t have them now prepare for them. If your family members don’t have it pray and ask Heavenly Father how you can help them, know the gospel well enough that it truly becomes a pattern in your life! I love this gospel and I love my Savior. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the prophet Joseph Smith and that the Priesthood Power of God is on the earth again. I love the Book of Mormon and I know it is the word of God to bring us closer to him. And I say these things. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.