It is tough living in 2017. Fear and anger are running amuck. The world is a scary place right now. Watching the news is downright depressing—not to mention social media. It is so easy to get caught up in all that fear and anger. Is there no balm in Gilead? (Jeremiah 8:22) It is not possible to completely shield our families from the world.
We all share the same planet. We don’t even want to avoid the world, as we are responsible for sharing the gospel with others. Yet, we must have a safe place to nurture our families. Our homes can be our safe haven. We can make our homes peace on earth. The temple can also be a safe haven from the world. We are a covenant-keeping people. If we live the commandments and keep our covenants, we have nothing to fear.
We all have agency, and that makes this family business even more difficult. Maneuvering the evil in the world for an entire family is the ultimate challenge. Some members of our family may make choices that are not in line with gospel principles. Some may even break away from the things we cherish most. If we have kept our covenants and continue to live the commandments, we can be at peace that we have done all that we can do.
Remember that our Heavenly Parents lost one-third of their children to disobedience, and those children never had the opportunity to even come here to earth. To write ourselves off as failing parents is the same as saying our Heavenly Parents also failed. Even our Heavenly Parents will not remove our agency to act on our own.
There are no pat answers for successful families. The best parents in the world can produce the prodigal son or daughter. However, we can do our very best to teach our families the gospel so that they will be educated in making their own choices. We can make our homes pleasant, comfortable, loving places so that our family will want to gather where they feel the Spirit instead of someplace where the Spirit may not dwell.
That doesn’t mean that contention will never exist in our homes, because we are all human with faults and tempers. Learning how to forgive and apologize from the heart is important. There will always be need for repentance. Developing relationship skills is simply learning to be more Christ like. Prayer and constant scripture study will put us in the frame of mind to receive the Spirit and make decisions that will cement our familial relationships.
Keeping families together takes finding joy. Joy isn’t found in smart phones, I-pods, and social media. Joy is found interacting with those closest to you. Joy is mostly found in your own home. We don’t all have perfect little lives wrapped up in perfect little bows—in fact, no one has that; it’s a myth.
We find joy in service. No matter what our circumstances, if we serve others, we will find joy. Be willing to put down the electronic gadgets, interact with family and friends, and find joy. In so doing, you will build eternal relationships.
Joy is not in things; it is in us. —Richard Wagner
ENDURING ADVERSITY TO THE END
I mentioned earlier that fear and anger are running amuck these days. This is no surprise. Confusion and evil has long been prophesied for the last days. Yet, we have also been told that if we are prepared, we have no need to fear. (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30.)
There is no joy in worry. We know that things are tough now, and we also know that we will continue down a very rocky trail to the bottom of the pit before Christ comes again to the earth. As long as we are doing our best to follow Christ, we don’t have to worry about anything. He will wrap us in the arms of His love.
One of my favorite LDS General Conference talks was given by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Come What May, and Love It.” Elder Wirthlin talked about how to work our way through adversity in our lives by learning to laugh, seeking eternal perspective, and understanding that the Lord will compensate through the atonement for all our adversity.
[My mother] listened to my sad story. She taught her children to trust in themselves and each other, not blame others for their misfortunes, and give their best effort in everything they attempted.
When we fell down, she expected us to pick ourselves up and get going again. So the advice my mother gave to me then wasn’t altogether unexpected. It has stayed with me all my life.
“Joseph,” she said, “come what may, and love it.”
I have often reflected on that counsel.
I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Come What May, and Love It,” Oct. 2008 General Conference).
I would encourage the reading of Elder Withlin’s entire talk, as it is excellent.
Keeping families together in the last days is not easy, but it is definitely worth the effort. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that we all have agency, find the joy, and endure adversity to the end. In that, you will have your eternal reward.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.