I grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I can’t really say we were a model LDS family. Oh, in a lot of ways we were, but in some very basic ways we weren’t. We only ever had a handful of Family Home Evenings, we hardly ever ate dinner together, and we never had family scripture study or prayer.
Even though these types of things were missing from my home, there were some other very important things that were present. I think it’s a system of checks and balances. My parents were very good at teaching me the power of service and showing me an example of 110% effort in church callings. But my favorite gospel lesson came from my father.
My father was a very busy man. He traveled a lot, both for his work and for his church service. He got tired and he got grumpy. But what I remember most are those special occasions when he would call us around him: sometimes at the kitchen table, sometimes in the living room, sometimes all piled on my parents’ bed. Then my father would smile and say, “Let me tell you what I learned about the gospel today.”
Sometimes it was something deep and profound. Sometimes it was a simple observance. I can’t distinctly remember many of the subjects he sat us down to talk about, but what I do remember is this: his face.
When he would bring us to him to hear about the gospel, his face would shine with happiness. Have you ever been around someone who is talking about a hobby or passion that they love? Did you notice how everything about them began to change as they talked and got excited about what the subject means to them? That was my father. I’d see him more at peace, more content, and more joyful in those moments than any others.
Of all the Family Home Evening lessons I could have had, or any other gospel centered activity, his face was the message I carried with me into my adult years. My father taught me that the gospel of Jesus Christ is about joy.
Because of the look on his face, the change in his whole demeanor, I learned what is possibly the greatest principle: the gospel brings happiness. Even if everything else in my life is in turmoil, if I’m focusing on the gospel, I have a source of peace and joy.
So yes, I may struggle in my own family to consistently have Family Home Evening, but I hope they’ll overlook that and leave my home with the same knowledge I gained in my youth.
Service is important.
Give your all to the Lord.
The gospel brings joy.
I hope that as I try every day to be an active disciple of Jesus Christ, my children can see that same look of happiness and peace on my face.