Parenting is really great. Now, as my wife and I enter the grandparenting stage, it is turning out to be more wonderful than we ever expected! I have four little grandsons and more on the way. Another daughter is expecting, and still another was just married this summer. Our family is flourishing, and even that is not yet the end. We are just beginning, really.
Yet even then, why is something so wonderful and right so hard? Good question. Read on.
Challenges are part of life. Hardship comes with the territory. But recognizing and acknowledging the value in others and in our children is far more than circumstance. It is destiny.
Think about it: they are already headed in the right direction. We are just encouraging them along the path that has already been prepared for them. And when things don’t seem to be going just right, remember the righteous intentions of your heart are enough—even when the actual efforts seem unnoticed, unappreciated, and, perhaps for the moment, unrealized. Faith helps pull us through the tough times. Though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first of the gospel principles, its purpose is not to be used only as first chronologically. Faith in Jesus Christ is an elementary component of our everyday lives.
Admittedly, when my parents and leaders explained that principle to me when I was young, I accepted it on the basis that I believed them. However, I don’t think I really understood at the time how faith applied to my daily activities. I don’t wonder about that anymore.
Think of the last time you were at the end of your rope. That is to say, you had no possible way to pay your bills, resolve a hurt in your family, or address the health concern that was far more complicated and overwhelming than you are able to understand, let alone pay for and rectify. Or maybe your present circumstances have you reeling over your current crisis of unemployment. Whatever your obstacle, right now is when faith is needed to buoy you up and help you. That is why we have it.
So in the midst of taking on our own challenges, we have to remember that our children and grandchildren are looking to us for strength, guidance, and direction. Then, as we help teach them how we make it through our own difficulties, they will learn resiliency, fortitude, and wisdom for themselves.
So in that vein, I have a little grandfatherly advice.
Firstly, every parent and grandparent should listen to and heed the wisdom of President James E. Faust.
The next bit of advice comes from J. Rueben Clark in a 1938 conference:
“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”
(In Conference Report, Apr. 1938, p. 103.)
To my children, I would say this:
The above talk was given by Jeffrey R. Holland, then-president of Brigham Young University. He and his wife, Patricia T. Holland, gave this devotional address nine days prior to my and your mother’s marriage back in 1985, at a time when the world was our campus. Your mother and I were literally starting out on a trek that would consume our lives, fortunes, and good names. The counsel they gave was spot-on as we look back over the last 34 years of marriage.
Our hope is that these few words in this love letter to you are as valuable in your and your family’s lives as they have been in our lives.
You are easily our greatest blessings now and forever.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.