Quick question before I move on with this post…Do you call your parents-in-law "mom" and "dad"? My parents call their in-law parents mom and dad. I just recently started calling my in-laws mom and dad after 20 or so years, but none of my siblings spouses call them mom and dad, so I don't do it a lot. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone should do what they feel is right for them.
THERE'S NO "DREADED" IN MY IN-LAWS
From day one they have accepted me as their daughter. They have supported Mark and I in our journey together as husband and wife. They love and spoil our kids and have a way of making each of them feel as though they are the number one grandchild in the world. They are truly the best.
What is it that they have done that makes them (and my own parents) good in-laws? What can I do to prepare myself to be a good in-law? As I pondered my relationship with my in-laws, thought about my own parents as in-laws, and studied for my Marriage class this week, I have come up with 5 tips for being not only good in-laws, but fantastic in-laws.
5 TIPS FOR BEING GOOD IN-LAWS
Recognize early on that as in-laws, you must help define and protect the budding relationship of your child and his/her spouse. "Parents must give the newly married couple time to adjust and allow them to be independent" (Harper, 2005, 328). New couples must set up a boundary of sorts around their relationship and parents can help them best by respecting this boundary.
Recognize that it is important for "couples to develop their own traditions and have time together on special occasions (Harper 329).
As tempting as it is, try to make sure that you don't pressure your grown children to be at every family gathering. This was one of the hardest times in my own marriage, this blending of two families and creating our own traditions. Many argument was had between Mark and I as we tried to figure out how to balance time between our two families. Neither of us wanted to give up the traditions we had established growing up with our families. I don't know that we felt a ton of pressure from either side, but we definitely felt that either side would be disappointed if we weren't there. I love this advice for parents: "Understanding that expectations for family relationships have to change helps new parents-in-law help their children. Parents will do better to listen and not impose their opinions or feelings" (Harper 329).
Understand that you can still be close with your child and secure in your relationship with him or her without always having to be present (Harper 329). You don't want to be enmeshed with your child. "Enmeshment describes a process in which parents and children feel they always have to be together" (Harper 329). Seriously, you don't want to be THAT in-law. Please, my friends. Don't be enmeshed with your children. Love them, be close to them, but let them and their spouse do their thing.
Try to create a climate of safety in which your children and their spouses can express their feelings about how involved they want you to be. "When married children are treated with respect and love in this matter, they are more likely to want to spend more time with parents and extended family" (Harper 329-30). Keep the lines of communication open and be an ACTIVE LISTENER. Just listen and offer advice when they ask for advice.
Accept that your child's spouse may have differences and not follow your "family rules" and that's okay. Include them in your life. Ask for their opinions. Allow them to share their ideas and give them the opportunity to implement those ideas in some of your family activities.
"It is important for parents-in-law to find ways to personally build relationships with their children-in-law as individuals" (Harper 331).
I AM SO EXCITED TO BE AN IN-LAW
I cannot wait to be an in-law. I know it won't be easy to allow my children to leave the nest and start building their own with someone else. I know there will be bumps in the road, hurt feelings, and maybe even some arguments. But overall, I just hope that I can truly help my children-in-law to know that I love them, I accept them, and I am so thrilled that they are part of my family. I want to be there to celebrate with them when they have exciting family moments, to mourn with them in their sorrows, and support them through the hard times because that's what families should do for each other.
I pray for my future children-in-law all the time. I pray that they are healthy, that they are having experiences that will help them be the kind of spouse that each of my children need, and that they are developing a relationship with their Savior. I can't wait to meet each of them, wrap my arms around them (only if they like hugs though), and say, "Welcome to the family. We've been waiting for you."
CBS Sunday Morning. (2019, October 13). Jim Gaffigan on His In-Laws. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://youtu.be/MNpDl8gcOWg.
Harper, J. M. & Olsen, S. F. (2005). "Creating Healthy Ties With In-Laws and Extended Families." In C. H. Hart, L.D. Newell, E. Walton, & D.C. Dollahite (Eds.), Helping and healing our families: Principles and practices inspired by "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" (pp. 327-334). Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company.
“When children become adults, the relationship between parents and children changes. In healthy
But, time marches on and those sweet little voices have been replaced by grown up voices with grown up opinions and responsibilities which creates a shift in the power aspect of our relationships, which at times can be a little bit of a growing pain.
I’m not an expert in this new phase, not by any stretch of the imagination, but there are a few things I have learned that I would like to share with you.
Parents can be wrong and should admit when they are wrong.
This has been of huge importance at our home. I used to use the phrase, “I’m the parent and you’re the child, that’s why.” Have you ever heard Heavenly Father use this phrase? I’m not a scholar of the scriptures, but I cannot think of a time when He has said that phrase. Unlike our perfect Father in Heaven, I am not a perfect parent and I get things wrong sometimes. One of the best lessons I feel I can teach my children is to know when you are wrong and admit it. Humility is essential in our progression towards perfection and it goes a long way in this world when you can say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“Parents still have the right to set household rules concerning appropriate behavior in their house, but they no longer have the right or responsibility to tell their adult children what to do” (Miller 2008, 2).
I had a goal when my son came home from his mission. That goal was to treat him like the “20-year old adult who has been living on his own for the past two years” that he is. As much as I would have liked to coddle him, make sure he wears his coat when going outside, and all the other things that mothers of little kids do, I knew that I couldn’t. It would not have been healthy for our relationship and again, if I am striving to learn how to parent as my Heavenly Parents do, this would not have helped me along that journey.
Be there when you are needed and show an increase of love.
Being a young adult is tough and just because your child has entered this new phase, does not mean that he/she does not need your support any longer. There are lots of ways you can continue to show your love and support to them through their young adult years. I found a great article in the Ensign magazine that offers 10 tips for parents of young adults.
5. Trust them with their decisions. “This doesn’t mean believing that they will always make perfect choices. It means trusting that they can be resilient, that God is forgiving, and that life can be deeply meaningful even when it includes overcoming failure or enduring trials. Young children can be scarred by trauma, but young adults grow from overcoming obstacles rather than avoiding them. Provide emotional and practical support, encourage breaks from the stress, pray with and for them, and inject a little humor.”
6. Praise them for their efforts. Who doesn’t like to receive a little recognition for their effort? Failure is a part of life but can be discouraging. Praise your child for their efforts and love them through painful failures.
7. Seek for inspiration. I could not live without the Holy Ghost. He has guided me so many times in so many situations.
8. Talk about money. Don’t assume that your child knows how to create and manage a budget, or use credit cards, or any other financial concepts. Talk openly with them. See if they have questions. Show them what has worked for you and then support them as they figure out what works for them.
9. Be humble. This goes back to my very first observation…admit when you are wrong and own it.
10. Measure true success. “When we focus too much on how others will judge us for our children’s choices (either for good or bad), we lose objectivity, and we often lose the Spirit. Remember that our success as parents is not defined by how well our children live our values but by how consistently and selflessly we live them.”
Truth be told…I am excited for this phase of life. I know that parenting adult children brings with it heartache, worry, sorrow, and pain as things happen in their lives that you can’t control. It’s hard to watch your children be in pain or sorrow.
But, I also know that parenting adult children can bring with it joy, celebration, and love as you watch them grow into the people that Heavenly Father wants them to be. I look forward to the new adventures this phase of parenting will bring and pray that the Lord will help me be the best mother I can be in every phase.
Richard B. Miller, “Who Is the Boss? Power Relationships in Families.” BYU Conference on Family Life, Brigham Young University, March 28, 2009.
Ulrich, Wendy, "Ten Tips for Parents of Young Adults." Ensign, July 2014.
Because of the law of Chastity, I feel that culturally, we have a problem talking about healthy sexual relationships. I also feel that sometimes our kids get the idea that sex is bad, even though it is not. Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985), who is a prophet and served as President of the Church from 1973-1985 said this regarding the sanctity and importance of sexuality: “It is the destiny of men and women to join together to make eternal family units. In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love” (Intimacy 1982).
A FEW THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW:
Physical and sexual intimacy are important parts of a marriage relationship, but they can also be the source of disagreements if you are not open in your communication together as a couple. Talk to your spouse. Let him/her know how you are feeling. In the book, “Becoming One: Intimacy in Marriage” we learn that married couples “should strive to communicate openly and learn to satisfy each other both emotionally and sexually” (Stahmann et al 2004). That conversation was hard (and is sometimes still hard) for me to have. I came into my marriage filled with inhibition about sex because of the idea that I had that sex was not good. It has taken years for me to get to the point where I am comfortable talking openly about it with your dad and I don’t want that for you. I want to help you start off on the right foot, so don’t be afraid to talk about sex with your spouse! It’s a good thing!
Learn what you can about sex from appropriate sources. There are so many helpful books that have been written with young Latter-day Saint couples in mind. S.E. Brotherson wrote, “A failure to understand your own body, your partner’s responses, and the essential ingredients of a healthy sexual relationship quickly becomes a failure to find sexual satisfaction as a married couple” (Brotherson 2003). Before you get married, I plan on giving you the book I mentioned in the last point, “Becoming One: Intimacy in Marriage”. I wish I would have had it as a resource before I got married. It will be very helpful as you begin this new stage in your life. I also want you to know that you can always come to me with any questions you may have. I’m not an expert, but I will do my best to give you an answer or help you find an answer.
I feel like Victor Cline summed it up best when he said, “…sex should be a celebration. It comes from God. He created our sexual appetites and natures. He has ordained us to make love both physically and spiritually. He is pleased when He sees us bonded together sexually, in love, for this is the plan of creation” (Cline 39). Marriage is a way for us to learn how to become like God and as we seek for direction and guidance from the Holy Ghost, we will be able to know how to navigate miscommunications and problems as they arise. Sister Wendy Nelson said, “For true marital intimacy, the Holy Ghost needs to be involved…anything that invites the Spirit into your life, and into the life of your spouse and your marriage, will increase your ability to experience marital intimacy” (Nelson 2017).
Intimacy in Marriage and The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 311
Nelson, W. W. (2017, January). Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults. Brigham Young University. Provo.
Stahmann, R. F., Young, W. R., & Grover, J. G. (2004). Becoming one: intimacy in marriage. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
In a previous post on my blog, I talked extensively about charity- what it is and why we so desperately need more of it in this world. Today, I would like to continue those thoughts on charity, but tie them into how charity is crucial, not only in life, but in our marriage relationships.
Perhaps Marvin J. Ashton said it best, “Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down” (Goddard 116).
So, if you were wondering what charity has to do with marriage, wonder no more, my friends. Do you have to accept someone’s differences in a marriage relationship? Yes. Weaknesses and shortcomings? Yes. Do you ever have to exhibit patience with a spouse who has let you down? Hopefully not often, but yes.
I have been enrolled in this marriage class for the past 10 weeks. Truth be told, I was hoping that this class could help me manage some things that were distressing me about my relationship with my husband. Nothing huge. Certainly not anything that has had me contemplating separation or divorce, but just…things, ya know? Things such as feelings of an imbalance of responsibilities around the house and letting little annoyances fester way too long. I knew that these things were mostly problems with me and my perspective of situations, but I just couldn’t figure out how to move past them. (Thank you, Satan.)
Little did I know that there is one word that has the power to help me overcome all of these things and more…charity.
LOVE FROM CHRIST
Elder C. Max Caldwell gave a talk in 1992 entitled “Love of Christ” in which he talks about three principles of charity. (I will not be talking about them in the same order in which he presented them in, but instead will be following the order that Dr. Goddard presented them in when he wrote “Drawing Heaven into your Marriage.)
“Charity is first and foremost the redemptive love that Jesus offers all of us. It is the love from Christ. He is the model of charity-which never faileth” (Goddard 116).
Think about it. You have an elder brother who loves you so completely that He gave His very life for you. He suffered for your sins so that He could be an advocate for you in the presence of God, our Eternal Father in Heaven. He “reaches after us… [and as] we begin to understand His goodness and redemptiveness, we are changed. We are filled with a profound awe and gratitude for Him” (Goddard 117). Then Goddard poses this question: Why would the Savior do all that he has done to rescue us? The answer to that is, charity, and when you can truly come to know that the Savior loves every fiber of your being, that changes you and helps you move to the next principle of charity.
LOVE FOR CHRIST
“As the amazing truth of His unrelenting love pierces our hearts, we are led to…love for Christ” (Goddard 117). I feel that it is easy to love the Savior considering all He has done for me. Just loving Him feels so trite when I think about the scope of all He has gone through so that I can live forever with God someday.
But love is a powerful thing, and when we feel the love that Christ has for us, we can’t help but love Him back, and that adds to this process of being changed. “Charity, or love for Christ, sustains us in every need and influences us in every decision” (Maxwell). As we feel that sustaining power from loving Christ it increases our ability to then move on to the third principle of charity.
LOVE LIKE CHRIST
This is where our marriages come in. Can I take the love from and for my Savior and have that change me so that I can express love to my husband like unto the love my Savior has for him? Elder Maxwell tells us how we can do this.
“Jesus’ love was inseparably connected to and resulted from his life of serving, sacrificing, and giving in behalf of others. We cannot develop Christlike love except by practicing the process prescribed by the Master” (Maxwell).
Serving, sacrificing, and giving in behalf of others. These are the magic ingredients! These are the things that have helped set me on a path to overcome the festering annoyances and grumpiness that I sometimes have with my husband. As I have focused my attention on serving instead of complaining, sacrificing instead of keeping score, and giving of my whole soul to a companion that I want to live with for eternity, I have felt a tangible difference.
Goddard, H. W. (2009). Drawing heaven into your marriage: eternal doctrines that change relationships. Cedar Hills, UT: Joymap Publishing.
Maxwell, C. Max., "Love of Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1992, 29.
However, as I have studied the concept of pride over the last couple of years through different classes at BYU-I, I have come to see different parts of this word, “pride” that, for better or worse (mostly worse), I recognized in myself. It’s not fun to recognize attitudes that you have that are prideful, but, recognizing and admitting is the first step to recovery, right?
HI, MY NAME IS DESIRAE AND I AM A RECOVERING PRIDE...PERSON
Let me introduce you to some of the hidden sides of pride—some things that maybe you don’t always put in the same basket as pride but might be surprised to learn that they are in your basket in the first place. (Does that make sense? I don't know.) What I'm trying to say is...you may be surprised to learn how many of the actions we make stem from pride.
WITHHOLDING PRAISE AND GRATITUDE THAT MIGHT LIFT ANOTHER
The last hidden side of pride I want to mention is that of contention. Maybe this one is not so hidden. I feel like maybe it’s a given that pride can cause contention. The component of this that has been hidden for me, however, is that sometimes when I am the one creating contention in our home, I’m not realizing that it is because of me being unconsciously prideful. But going through these experiences of learning about pride, I have been able to recognize times when the contention I have caused is because of feelings of pride. (And we'll leave it at that because I'm feeling like I've been vulnerable enough in this post...)
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We know pride is there…for all of us, whether we like to admit it or not. So, what can we do to limit it, or better yet, prevent it from seeping into our lives? President Benson gives us the cure.
“The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit” (Benson 1989).
That sounds wonderful, but sometimes easier said that done, right?
It all comes down to choices. We choose to be humble. We choose to not hold grudges and “enmity toward our brothers and sisters. We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement. We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service…and by getting to the temple more frequently” (Benson 1989).
Benson, E. T. (1989, May). Beware of Pride. Ensign, 19(5). doi: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1989/05/beware-of-pride?lang=eng
According to Dr. Gottman, even if you have a stable and happy marriage, chances are you might be asking yourself, “Is that all there is?” (Gottman 260). He goes on to say that “marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores, and making love. It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together” (Gottman 260). In other words, you are able to create your own family culture with your own traditions, rituals, and myths. You work together to have this shared meaning. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree on everything, but it does mean that you mesh ideas and dreams to create a culture within your family that can grow and develop over the years.
Dr. Gottman shares four “critical mainstays of shared meaning” that if built together by couples, they can “enrich their relationship and family life” (Gottman 263). To those four pillars of shared meaning, I would also like to add this counsel from prophets and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in the document, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:
PILLAR ONE: RITUALS OF CONNECTION
PILLAR TWO: SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER'S ROLES
PILLAR THREE: SHARED GOALS
PILLAR FOUR: SHARED VALUES AND SYMBOLS
After studying these four pillars and Dr. Gottman’s seven principles of marriage, I can say with 100% honesty that it has made a huge difference in how I approach my marriage and in the relationship that Mark and I have together. I am grateful for him and for the opportunity I have to be married to him, not only for this earth life, but throughout all eternity.
"Family: A Proclamation to the World." (1995, November). Ensign, 25, p. 102.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2018). The seven principles for making marriage work. London: Seven Dials an imprint of Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
Okay, so now that I have typed out the first verse the song does sound a bit stalkerish, but give me a minute to explain…
In my studies this week, we have been reading about how to cherish your spouse and I’ve had to face some really difficult questions. Do I truly cherish my spouse? Am I as forgiving and patient with him as I want him to be with me, or am I trying to “mold him into someone” that I want him to be? Are we in sync with each other or two people living in the same house trying to survive the day to day stuff? It’s been an eye opening few days and I am mostly looking forward to what else the Lord needs me to learn this week. (I say mostly because I’m scared of what chastening may lie ahead, lol.)
So, what can be done about that? How do I stop creating unrealistic expectations and focus instead on truly cherishing the amazing husband that I have? Dr. Goddard shares this advice: “The cure for this is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. If we listen carefully and learn humbly about our partners' points of view, we will be enlarged and enriched” (Goddard 42). A broken heart and a contrite spirit. That is exactly what the Savior has instructed us to do to repent and become “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new creature in Christ is humble, submissive, patient, kind, caring, and passionate about helping people (including their spouse) become the best person they can be.
Goddard, H. W. (2009). Drawing heaven into your marriage: eternal doctrines that change relationships. Cedar Hills, UT: Joymap Publishing.
Yep. You read that paragraph right. This “Eternal Families” post is about the debate to legalize same-sex marriage. It was bound to happen, right? It is a topic that cannot be avoided, and frankly, should not be avoided because it is extremely important to a lot of people.
WHY DO YOU CARE?
Why write about it? Aren’t there enough blog posts, social media posts, news stories, tweets, and who knows what else about the subject? Why add to the debate? Quite honestly, I’m ready for it to not be a debate anymore. I’m ready for a society where we can share our opinions with one another, different as they may be, and respond with love, kindness, and understanding. It is with those thoughts running through my brain that I want to share why the topic of legalizing same-sex marriage matters to me anyway.
WHY IS MARRIAGE SUCH A BIG DEAL?
“Confucius taught that marriage lies at the foundation of government” (Obergefell 8). The late Elder L. Tom Perry, an Apostle of Jesus Christ said that, “a great number of secular people have concluded that a committed marriage and family lifestyle is the most sensible, the most economical, and the happiest way to live” (Perry). Marriage is important to many people, especially those who are religious and “offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm” (Obergefell 8).
WHY THE DEBATE ABOUT LEGALIZING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?
Nelson, R. M. (2014, August). Provo.
Obergefell v Hodges, 2015, Supreme Court Case
Once again, I will have the opportunity, in two of my classes this semester, to write blog posts about what I am learning. “Ask, and ye shall receive”, am I right? (D&C 4:7). I have also been feeling like the old blog needed a little remodeling, so you will notice that there are a few different things. I have split my blog into three sections: Blog, Come Follow Me, and Eternal Families. This way, my readers will be able to go directly to whatever it is they want to read about.
So, without further adieu (or any more rambling), here we go with this week’s “The Eternal Family” post.
DIVORCE AND ETERNAL FAMILIES?
Some people go into their marriages with the thought, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, I can always get a divorce.” Others look at their first marriage as a sort of “starter marriage” (Oaks 70). Laws have been established that make it relatively easy to obtain a divorce and “overall, the public has become more accepting of divorce (National 86). All of these things combine to make divorce something that is a very real problem with equally real consequences.
One of those consequences is that divorces are very costly to the public. “A single divorce can cost the state and federal governments about $30,000, based on the increased use of food stamps and public housing as well as increased bankruptcies and juvenile delinquency” (National 95). Other consequences are more detrimental as we see the toll that these broken relationships take on the members of the families who have gone through a divorce. Children with divorced parents are often worse off than those with continuously married parents in areas of academic success, conduct, psychological well-being, self-esteem, and peer relations (National 4). I am not saying that all children of divorced families suffer with problems in these areas, nor am I saying that children who have parents who are still together don’t suffer with problems in these areas. We just know, from multiple studies that have been conducted, that divorce can bring increased problems to these areas of a child’s life.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We can see the problems of divorce laid out in front of us, so what are we to do? What should a couple do when there is no longer “wedded bliss”? I think there are multiple answers to that question and ultimately, what happens with a family is up to the parents, and (hopefully) God. I included the word hopefully in there because some people may not use God in their decision to divorce, and that could lead to even bigger problems in the future. After all, God is the master designer of a great plan of happiness that includes us living in and having family relationships.
To better answer this question of, “what can we do”, we need to look at the issue from different perspectives...
Perspective #1: When You are Faced with the Divorce Decision
I am not going to pretend that I know what this feels like. I have not been faced with the decision to divorce and so therefore, I am not going to tell you what I think you should do in that situation. I will, however, include some advice from Church leaders and other people in the family science field who may be able to help you if you are facing this difficult decision.
“Under the law of the Lord, a marriage, like a human life, is a precious, living thing. If our bodies are sick, we seek to heal them. We do not give up. While there is any prospect of life, we seek healing again and again. The same should be true of our marriages, and if we seek Him, the Lord will help us and heal us” (Oaks 72).
Perspective #2: When You are the Outsider Looking In
This is where I am. I know people who have gone or who are going through the painful process of a divorce and I have wondered what I can do to help. I’ll tell you one thing that is not helpful…passing judgment. You simply don’t know what has gone on behind closed doors, even if your friend has “told you everything”.
Here’s my one word suggestion: LOVE. Love the crap out of your friend and his/her family. Now, here are a few more words of wisdom.
Offer empathy. “To show constructive empathy, focus the discussion on your hurting friend’s feelings—not on their spouse of their spouse’s offense” (How to Respond)
As I mentioned earlier, I am not an expert on divorce. I have not experienced the heartbreak of my parents getting a divorce, nor have I contemplated a divorce for my own marriage. However, I have seen the scars that divorce brings. I have listened to friends confide in me the pain they feel and the ache they have from the effects of a divorce.
Life is hard, for everyone. Let’s be mindful of that when we hear of divorce, talk about divorce, speculate about divorce, or, heaven forbid, find ourselves in the awful jaws of divorce. Let us turn to the Master Healer and Creator. It is through Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we can find healing, joy, and happiness in all situations of our lives.
Gaspard, T. (2018, February 15). Be the Change You Wish to See in Your Relationship. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-your-relationship/.
How to respond when a friend reveals tension in their marriage. (0AD). Retrieved from https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/content/how-to-respond-when-a-friend-reveals-tension-in-their-marriage.
National Marriage Project. (2012). The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America. The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America (pp. 1–124). Charlottesville, VA.
Oaks, D. H. (2007, May). Divorce. Ensign, 37(5), 1–123. doi: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2007/05/divorce?lang=eng
In August 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. To say we were surprised would be a huge understatement. It was a phone call that changed our family's lives forever and a crucible that "purged away impurities and [unified us] into an entirely new final product" (Hawkins et al 237).
One of the things that helped our family face this challenging time was keeping an eternal perspective in mind. This was easier said than done, especially considering the fact that my children were so young at the time. "Perspective is our frame of reference, our beginning assumptions, our way of seeing, or our way of thinking" (Hawkins et al 238). It took a lot of work to maintain an eternal perspective while going through this crucible, but I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. It was the anchor we held on to and the biggest tool in helping us maintain an healthy, eternal perspective. We knew that this moment of adversity, as hard as it was, had a purpose and, if we stayed close to the Savior, He would help us come out the other side stronger.
"The [Family] proclamation teaches that the cumulative purpose of all experiences in this life is to help us 'progress toward perfection' (para 3) and realize our 'destiny as heirs of eternal life'. Having faith in God and in His 'divine plan of happiness' (para 3) is the first principle of a perspective that recognizes meaning and growth as coming from life's crucibles" (Hawkins et al 238).
I remember pleading with my Heavenly Father to please allow me to stay here with my kids and not let the cancer win. This was my prayer for most of the beginning stages of treatment. Then, the Lord blessed me with a few sacred, personal experiences in which I learned that it did not matter if I lived or died after fighting that cancer. What mattered is that I needed to let go of my will and align it with His. I needed to recognize that there was a bigger picture. Bigger than being here for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and grand kids. It was about trusting in the Savior and believing that His sacrifice and suffering meant something.
"Our understanding of the Atonement is hardly a shield against sorrow; rather, it is a rich source of strength to deal productively with the disappointments and heartbreaks that form the deliberate fabric of mortal life. The gospel helps us to heal our pain, not necessarily to prevent it" -Elder Bruce C. Hafen (Hawkins et al 239).
The Atonement of our Savior helped me to heal my pain, calm my fears, and strengthen me and my family to endure the months of treatments, surgeries, and recovery, both physical and mental. It was the key to facing our crucible and allowing it to change us for the better.
THE SAVIOR IS THE KEY
"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" (Family para 7).
I don't know where my family would be without the Savior and His everlasting gospel in our lives. Having His gospel in our lives helps us to forgive one another, to be patient with one another, and to remember that it is through Him that we will be able to live together forever.
"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.
WHY ETERNAL FAMILIES?
This page is dedicated to sharing information regarding God's plan for families, how we can strengthen our family relationships, and how the Savior can heal even the most broken of hearts.