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!
Okay, so hopefully Disney doesn't see this post and sue me for using Buzz Lightyear's famous line, but I feel it fits perfectly with what I want to share with you in this post.
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
This is God's plan of happiness for His children. It is truly a plan for families as it allows families to live together forever in heaven. Through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ and His victory over death, we have the opportunity to be with our families after this life. Isn't that awesome?
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."
Do you understand what this means? We are all part of one great big family and, in the words of Stitch from the movie Lilo and Stitch, "Ohana means Family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." (Again, with the Disney reference. Maybe I am needing a trip to Disneyland? :) But what that really means is that no matter what your family looks like here on earth, you are part of something much bigger and through your desire to be faithful to God's commandments, your choice to rely upon and utilize the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life, and your trust in God's plan of happiness, you will find joy and happiness with a forever family. I promise.
WHEN THINGS HAPPEN...
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).
So where does this leave families in their quest to live together forever? How will that be possible if some family members ultimately choose to not follow the covenant path? We have been taught in the scriptures that "this life...[is] a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of us..." (Alma 12:24). If that is truly the case and we need to use this life to prepare to meet God, what will happen to our families if we are not all using this life to make those preparations wisely? Keep reading, my friends...
TEMPLE COVENANTS SAVE FAMILIES
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.
Now, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I have a love/hate relationship with agency sometimes. Of course, I love it because it gives us the opportunity to choose for ourselves, and it's through choices that we learn and grow. However, I hate letting go of the "control" I have over my children and sending them off to use their own agency. I know, I know. That sounds bad. Maybe it's the control freak in me, but it's the truth.
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”
“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. :)
This is where this post ties in nicely with the post I wrote on Sunday. Just because you feel that your child or loved one is lost because of choices he/she is making, it DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE LOST TO THE LORD. (Sorry for the all caps shouting words, but I just want to get those points across, lol.) He/she is still your child. He/she is still God's child. Those are the things that really matter in this equation.
OUR JOB IS TO LOVE
So? What can parents do who feel that a child is lost? Well, for one thing, if those parents are doing their best to keep the covenants they have made in the temple, I promise you, that will go a very long way in the eternities. Again, I don't understand it all, I just know that there is a power in the priesthood sealing of families and there is also power in keeping the covenants you have made with God.
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.
I just want to leave you with one more quote from a mother who "gets it"--a mother who has been through the trenches and back again. This quote has changed my outlook on the "what if" scenarios about my children's choices that I have created in my mind.
“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).
"A line of communication and love through us remain." It's our job to love. Just love the crap out of them and be their biggest fans and supporters. The Lord knows exactly where they are and He loves them, every inch of them, and we can too.
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.
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.