After reading this weeks assigned readings I sat and pondered about how these ideas have or had not played out in my family and how that has affected my family and myself for better or worse.
That We May be One
My mother and father are two wonderful people, but also two very different types of people. My father is very quiet and reads a lot and is somewhat of a social introvert (which is ironic because he loves to be the center of attention), and is a logical decision maker. And on the other hand my mom is more sociable, likes lots of human interaction, and follows her heart. These two personality types could have ideally balanced out and there could have been a lot of happiness but for many reasons; some which I will never understand they had a very hard time making it work. President Eyring taught in his 1998 talk “That We May be One”, “All of us have felt something of both union and separation. Sometimes in families and perhaps in other settings we have glimpsed life when one person put the interests of another above his or her own, in love and with sacrifice. And all of us know something of the sadness and loneliness of being separate and alone.” This we are told is part of the human condition.
Both of my parents are converts to the church. My mom and my aunt were baptized at the same time and then my dad was baptized about a year later. I often wondered why my dad joined the church because he rarely talked about it and my mom was so vocal about her testimony. This difference in thinking and expression caused a heavy rift in my family. President Eyring also taught, “With the Fall it became clear that living in unity would not be easy. Tragedy struck early. Cain slew Abel, his brother. The children of Adam and Eve had become subject to the temptations of Satan. With skill, hatred, and cunning, Satan pursues his goal.” While my family situation has not been as extreme as Cain and Abel I saw that in my youth, my siblings often played my parents against each other because they knew that one would most likely disagree with the other and cause contention. You can only imagine what that does to those who are seeking to have peace and not contention. Our house unfortunately was often divided. And because of this I have often wondered if the Gospel did more to split my family or bring them together? President Eyring went on to teach, “We need hope that we can experience unity in this life and qualify to have it forever in the world to come. And we need to know how that great blessing will come so that we can know what we must do.” Daily I ask to understand what I can do to have hope and a desire to be a part of these blessings.
After thinking about these things I started to look at my life and instead of trying to figure out my family I would look at myself and see where I am applying these principles in my life.
Doctrine vs Reality; is doctrine our reality?
Believe the church is true or not, that is a choice we all have to make, but when reading it is easy to see that the doctrine, advice, and counsel given in these readings can promote peaceful, respectful relationships in a family or within a group of people.
Elder Ballard in his 1997 talk “Counseling with Our Councils” he spoke about the unity and desire for peace when they came into their council. He taught about the joy we can have when we chose to share the burden and “Counsel with our Councils,” He shared the words of Lucy Mack Smith, who said, “We rejoiced exceedingly, it then appeared that those of us who did not realize the magnitude of the work, as if the greatest difficulty had been surmounted.” What a relief to all those who were involved to know that the work could now be shared; that Joseph would not have to carry the burden alone. He was never meant to do it alone, but he did have to wait for the time when the Lord allowed him to share those responsibilities and duties.
I believe that intention above anything else is the most important factor to consider. If any of those men in their councils wanted to bring the church down or push the church another way or “their” way it would never work. Nothing could be accomplished and their would be no unity. Now this may sound extreme but when we apply it to our marriage or family relationships it can become very clear where people’s intentions truly lie. We cannot force or make people want to be with us or in our family. I have seen it in my own (myself included at times) and it is in those time that serious introspection is needed about what you want from this life and where you want to be.
Elder Ballard went on to teach from the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith helpful ideas that will help us prepare to have the unity that we desire.
- Our Way of Being – The decisions of these quorums (or families) are to be be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and loneliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (D&C 107:30-31)
- Humility – Do your duty with a righteousness, and fear of God.
- Repentant – No man is capable of judging a matter .. unless his own heart is pure; and that we are frequently so filled with prejudice or have a beam in our own eye that we are not capable of passing right decisions.
As we take the time to align our hearts to God’s heart and will we can live out the second half and promise of D&C 107: 30-31, “if these things about in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.”
We cannot do life alone and doing life with others can be difficult and trying. I have found in my personal experience that the words that I shared here are true. That looking at yourself first – recognize your way of being or desires, have humility, and ask for forgiveness (being repentant) we can be changed as President Eyring promises, “The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony. The Spirit of God never generates contention (see 3 Ne. 11:29 ). It never generates the feelings of distinctions between people which lead to strife (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 13th ed. , 131). It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls.”