Once again, the concept that God is in every single detail of our lives has hit me right in the face this morning and I'm feeling a little lightheaded from the impact, to tell you the truth.
On Sunday, I wrote a "Come, Follow Me" post for my New Testament class that focused on lost things. I referred to three of the Savior's parables that talked about how things (aka people) get lost in this life, but how no one is ever truly lost to the Lord.
As I sat down to put together this second post for my Family class, I realized that it is kind of a continuation of some of the thoughts I shared on Sunday.
I will never be able to deny the existence of God or the way He orchestrates our lives, even and especially when we have no idea that we are being instruments.
Family Relations--To Infinity and Beyond!
In my first "Eternal Families" post, I shared why Eternal Families are important in God's Plan of Salvation. Now I want to share with you how that great plan of salvation (AKA God's Plan of Happiness) "enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave" (paragraph 3, The Family). I will also discuss how temple covenants save families. Are you ready to go on this ride with me and learn how your family can be together forever? Let's do this.
God's Plan of Happiness
Now, I hear some of you...maybe the family I have is not so great and I don't want to be with them forever. If that's the case, my heart goes out to you and I am crying along with you because it breaks my heart to think of people in that situation. Do you know who else is crying with you and understands perfectly how you feel about your "not-so-wonderful" family? Our Savior and our Heavenly Father. They know, and I promise, you will not be left in the dark. There is room for everyone in this great plan of happiness and if you trust in Them, you will be led to places and people that will fill your life with joy...here and throughout the eternities.
"Before we were born, we lived with God, the Father of our spirits. All [of us] on earth are literally brothers and sisters in His family, and each of us is precious to Him. We lived with Him for eons of time before our mortal birth--learning, choosing, and preparing."
-Weatherford T. Clayton (Clayton, para 3).
When Things Happen
Life is hard and full of different choices. As part of the plan of happiness, God gave us agency--the ability to make choices for ourselves. Sometimes we use that agency wisely, sometimes...not so much. How grateful I am for the opportunity to repent when my choices are not so great.
As a parent, I can attest to the fact that it is hard to see your child make a choice that you know will lead them to hardship and sorrow. Maybe you have previously made a similar choice and subsequently have experienced the natural consequences that come along with it. Maybe you have seen others make similar choices. Whatever the case may be, when you're a parent and just want what is best for your child, it's hard to see them make choices that will lead them through difficult natural consequences.
“Few family challenges are of more significance and have longer-term implications than when family members fall away from correct principles and eventually become involved in serious transgression” (Hawkins et al, 169).
Temple Covenants Save Families
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be married in the temple. I had been taught that temple marriage = eternal marriage, and that is what I wanted.
When I met Mark (AKA The Love of My Life), I wanted that eternal marriage even more. I couldn't imagine not having him or our future children in my life forever. Even though I recognized the importance of temple marriage and the covenants we would make there, I did not fully understand just how binding those covenants could be.
After many years of study and prayer, I feel like I have a little better understanding of the power that comes from temple covenants, but I know that I am still only chipping away at the iceberg. I'll tell you something though, it's an iceberg that I'm going to keep chipping away at because my family means EVERYTHING to me, as do the covenants I have made with God in His holy house. Because I care about both so much, I am willing to put forth the effort to expand my knowledge and know what I need to do to keep my end of the bargain. I know God will keep his, because...He's God. It's me, who is a mortal, that I need to worry about.
I think it comes from the idea that I can't stand to see my children hurting, so I don't want them to make choices that will lead them to hurt. But, it comes back to the whole learning and growing thing, right? Sometimes the times in which we learn the most are the times that are most painful. Plus, I know that I'm not the only parent to feel the way that I do.
“Our Heavenly Father knows, far better than any mortal, the pain and sorrow associated with having children who exercise their moral agency to their condemnation rather than exaltation”
(Hawkins et al, 172).
Not only does Heavenly Father understand the pain and sorrow that parents experience when a child makes choices that lead him/her away from God's covenant path, but He has blessed us with prophets and apostles whose words give us hope and more importantly, help us to NOT FREAK OUT AND REMEMBER THAT OUR KIDS ARE STILL AMAZING AND EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY! :)
“When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother” -Joseph Smith
The seal the Prophet Joseph is referring to is the sealing of a husband and wife that can only happen in a temple as it needs to be performed by someone who has been authorized to use the priesthood keys that pertain to sealing things on earth and in heaven. (Those are a lot of words that may be unfamiliar. If you want to know more, follow the links. :)
“The Shepherd will find His sheep. They were His before they were yours—long before He entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as He loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fullness of knowledge brings the fullness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and His Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend” -Orson F. Whitney (Hawkins et al, 169-70).
Our Job is to Love
We can also love the crap out of our kiddos. I cannot tell you how much I love these yahoos. I love them on their good days and bad days. I love them whether they're making me laugh or making me cry. I JUST LOVE THEM! SO MUCH! And that's exactly what I need to do. Whatever paths they decide to take in their lives, whatever rocky ridges they decide to cross, my job is to love them.
Sometimes that is much easier said than done, right? I have expectations and hopes and dreams for their lives that may be different than the expectations, hopes, and dreams they have for themselves. But there is instructions in the scriptures and The Family: A Proclamation to the World that can help all parents on the path to love and nurture their children, no matter what direction they choose.
Counsel from the Scriptures:
Counsel from The Family Proclamation:
"To create an atmosphere where parents are abiding by the counsel in the Family Proclamation to “love and care for each other and for their children”…to “rear their children in love and righteousness and teach them to love and serve one another” and to honor principles such as “forgiveness, respect, love, and compassion”, requires a meek and lowly heart on the parent’s part" (Hawkins et al, 172).
“I don’t think there is a greater influence than one that is fueled by love. I think that God created the family unit as part of the divine plan to have his children return to Him. I don’t think it’s to create a feeling of despair when a loved one strays from the gospel; I think it’s to create a feeling of urgency on our part to help that son or daughter come back—to keep ourselves on high, firm ground, even holy ground, so that we can reach out to one who does not have as firm a footing on gospel ground. Although a connection to God might seem to be broken, a line of communication and love through us remain" (Hawkins et al, 172-73).
Clayton, W. T., (2017, April). Our Father's Glorious Plan. 187th General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Family: A Proclamation to the World." (1995, November). Ensign, 25, p. 102.
Hawkins, A. J., Dollahite, D. C., & Draper, T. (2012). Successful marriages and families: Proclamation principles and research perspectives. Provo, UT: BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.