My nephew’s high school football coach was a great motivator. He used an abbreviation to rally the team together during practices and for each game. The abbreviation was F.A.M.I.L.Y. It stood for, “Forget about me. I love you.” The letters spell family—the highest and oldest organization in the civilized world. To those who believe family is sacred and began in heaven, this is no coincidence at all.

football-461340_640How often have you heard groups of friends, business partners, co-workers, or team mates referred to as family? For example, “He’s like a father to me.” “She was the mother I never had.” “We’re more like sisters than friends.” “He’s my brother from another mother.” “We’re like family.” Undoubtedly, each of these references is done out of love—unconditional and binding. When we meet someone who makes a great impact in our lives, we consider them family. How silly would it sound to say, “He’s like the boss I never had.” “We’re more like co-workers than friends.” “She’s like a CEO to me.” No, heaven forbid! The comparison loses meaning because the affection, admiration, safety, and support we seek to reference come from something higher—family.

Forget about me.

My nephew’s football team made state championships each year. Why? Because their coach had the right perspective on teamwork—it wasn’t about the individual. It was about working together like a family should, with each person filling roles that others cannot. The first step is to forget about your own individual glory and work together for the success of the family. “Forget about me.” Both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forgot about their own desires for the sake of their eternal family, thus we have the plan of salvation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son… John 3:16.

jesus-with-children-craig-dimond-82779-galleryHeavenly Father performed the first selfless act in heaven before we were born.  Our heavenly parents wanted us to progress as they had. In order for this to happen we needed to be born, experience earth life, make choices on our own, and come home again, clean. We could not come home to a sacred world with the scars and stains of our imperfect experience, so we needed a savior to help us out. Heavenly Father needed to find someone to “take one for the team,” or in other words, He needed a volunteer to take on sin and death in such a way, it would clear the rest of us from our own blemishes. Before we were born, our Father in Heaven presented the plan, and one person stood out from among us who had the godly nature required for such a task. His name was Jesus Christ. He said to our father, “Here am I, send me.” The plan was set into motion.

Imagine how painful this must have been for our Father who loved His most perfect Son. Imagine if He had changed his mind. None of us would be allowed to live with Him again. But this was not so. Heavenly Father’s plan would benefit all His children, and that had meant one was to be sacrificed in a most horrific manner. Heavenly Father’s plan required a sacrifice of His heart, all for the love of His family.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will , but as thou wilt .” Matthew 26:39

pictures-of-jesus-smiling-1138511-galleryIn a way, Jesus Christ acted as the ultimate team-player, the quarterback who would bring our team—the human race—to a victory. He absorbed the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross at Calvary. He overcame them all, having risen from the dead, completing God’s eternal plan. He paved the way for all of us to have the same resurrection, one that would ensure we would gain a resurrected body of perfection. While Earth life is painful, leaving scars brought on by emotional and physical turmoil, it is temporary compared to the eternity that awaits us. We have Jesus Christ to thank for this gift. If He did not accomplish His saving atonement, if He failed in His task, we would be subject to Satan’s power and live forever in chains of bondage. Thankfully, our Savior didn’t drop the ball. He lived a perfect life, ensuring His ability to carry our sins. By some godly miracle, He broke the bonds of death, clearing the way for us to follow, if we choose to do so.

Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate act of selflessness—he forgot about Himself in order to fulfill the Father’s plan. Have you ever wondered how He could have kept His focus? I imagine He learned perfectly from Heavenly Father and never lost sight of the prize—a family united in the kingdom of God. His love for us was the motivator. We must have meant so much to Him to gain such a gift. Can we love ourselves enough to accept that gift?

I love you.

The last three letters in the abbreviation of FAMILY stand for “I love you.” Is this a coincidence, since Christ first decided to forget about himself by offering his life because he loved us? Is it a coincidence that the abbreviation spells family?  I think not. Christ’s entire demeanor was that of sacrifice and love. He was perfect. He did not need to atone for the sins of Himself. But he subjected Himself to an agonizing experience, one that no mortal man could withstand. The only reason He did this was to help us make it back to our father together. He did it for you. He did it because He loves you. He did it for the family.

FAMILY is the pattern of heaven.

family-photo-827763_640To forget oneself for the love of another is the act of pure godliness. When a family follows the design of heavenly love, it is elevated to an eternal level. To put aside petty differences, to work together for the benefit of the entire family, and to do so because of pure and binding love, is truly divine. Are there moments when you’ve experienced happy family times? Some of us will experience this more often than others. Some may live a tragic life and not experience love at all. Regardless of our backgrounds, everyone has in their memories the pattern of heaven’s family. Everyone is striving to come home to that pattern—whether they realize it or not.  Family is everything to everyone—even when a happy family life may only be a memory. Thanks to our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can all have a happy family again.

“Forget about me.” I can do so much more for others when I get out of the way and help others first—especially my family. I can see the big picture better, I see my role in the picture, and I understand who made it possible for me to get there.

Morning Devotional: To read more of Nanette's work, click here.

Morning Devotional: To read more of Nanette’s work, click here.

“I love you.” When I remember how my Savior loves me, I feel worth saving. When I remember he loves everyone as much as me, it opens my eyes to a new kind of love—one that extends to them in ways I might not have seen before. Reaching out in love to others softens my heart to the trials they may be going through. It helps me to forgive them for hurting me. It helps me to love as my Savior does.

FAMILY. Forget about me—I love you. Let’s make family our top priority so we can win this game of life together.

About Nanette ONeal
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.

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