Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family: What it means to me

I've been thinking about how to write this post for a few weeks now. Many things in my life lately have been focusing around family (such as my anniversary and TWO family reunions this week).

Family as an idea has always had a great impact on me. Since before I can remember, I've cried in movies when the scene focuses on the family unit. I cry when a family is separated (Bambi, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Dumbo, Brave, or any Disney movie you can name), and I cry when families are formed (have you ever watched Meet the Robinsons? Tangled? Tear-jerkers!). I have no shame. Those scenes are focused such a precious and important blessing.

Anyone who has spent a half hour with me knows I talk about my family. A lot.
Because they matter to me. A lot.

The family is so important that the Lord asked his prophets and apostles in this dispensation to clarify:
WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World, emphasis added)
I've reflected on how the family can be central to the Creator's plan. For the past ten years, I have often found during scripture study that the verses frequently speak of family organization and leadership. I have been taught that the family is important, that without a family one cannot complete the ordinances to live eternally with the Father. I know that as stated in Genesis Chapter 2 and in other modern revelation, the first commandment Adam and Eve received "pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

I have felt in my heart the joy that can come from spending time with family, and spending time on family. I have felt the peace that comes from researching family lines, learning about them, and completing their work. I know by experience that family is essential to happiness now, which leads me to believe that family is essential to happiness in the eternities as well.

I know that being in a family can teach you qualities essential to eternal happiness. In my familial relationships, I have learned (and am still learning) how to be patient and humble, how to find the positive lesson in a situation, how to love, how to serve, and how to press on.

Just recently, as Hiram taught a fantastic Sunday School lesson, I was reflecting on how our families can protect us from deception. Just in our sweet little family of two, I've recognized a difference in my life. It comes from me focusing on him and his needs rather than my own. My decisions no longer affect only me. They affect Hiram, and our future children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I don't read the scriptures for personal enlightenment. I don't pray for individual guidance. I study so I can be wise and worthy enough to stand equally alongside my husband as we work and progress towards eternal life. I pray to build a stronger relationship with my Father in Heaven, so that when trials come I can be firm in the faith of my Savior Jesus Christ, and teach my children to do so as well. My efforts have changed from personal and even selfish to selfless. My life is not just my own, it's my family's.

I don't think this is unique. Hiram and I have both seen our parents make decisions that were better for the family than for themselves. My own father has traded family for perhaps a more satisfying career. My mother has devoted her intelligence, creativity, and enthusiasm to raising six very different (and often difficult) children. I see my friends working hard in school not so they can climb the ladder of success, but so that they can raise their families on a higher plane. My sisters-in-law sacrifice time, talents, and sleep to the raising of their little sons as their husbands work so hard.

Ten years ago, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, "In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities." (The Importance of the Family, L. Tom Perry)

I am beginning to understand that the family is not only a central organizational establishment of our Heavenly Father's plan. The family has been given to us as a safeguard. It is not the home that can be a haven from the storms that rage in the world today, it is the family.

This is because when you are truly invested in your family, you are working for not only your well-being, but others. In doing so, you are forced to push aside pride. When you are truly invested in your family, you are given an added sense of accountability. Being focused on your family influences your thoughts, words, and actions. It prevents you from allowing the devil to deceive you, for you'll be more focused on loving, serving, studying, learning, praying, and pondering. When you are truly invested in your family, you will recognize that a strong relationship with Heavenly Father is necessary and essential.

In short, being part of a family saves a part of you.

How wonderful that our Heavenly Father has commanded us, encouraged us, and blessed us with this opportunity! How perfect that in one simple unit, we not only gain the experience we need to prepare us for eternal life but are given a reason to live righteously for others, not just for ourselves. I know that the family must be strengthened, as our prophets have stated so many times. I will be doing my best within my own.

I am so grateful for the blessing of families, both on this earth and in the eternities. I am especially grateful for the families I have been blessed with. They are beautiful inside and out, and have made my life beautiful as a result.

The Allen Family - July 7, 2012

The Jacob Family - July 7, 2012
To read more on the LDS perspective on families, you can visit the following:

1 comment:

  1. I happened on your blog while looking for something else, but what struck me was when I saw a headstone with Maud Larsen's name on it. Maud Larsen was my mother's sister. I remember going to visit her and my Uncle Fred when I was a young boy. I curious about which side of the family puts you in the Allred line? When I saw the Allen family photo, I thought you must be from Jim and Dyanne's family. I would be interested to know. I'm always happy when I find relatives that love the Lord and want to secure themselves a place in the eternal scheme of things. You can contact me at Don Mortensen