Sunday, March 23, 2014

TFOT - To My Grandchildren, Henry B. Eyring

*hangs head in shame*
I've lost my lesson.

I gave the lesson - and it was awesome, but I cannot find my original file to upload here. :(   I loved this talk, however, so I'll repost and address it again.  My thoughts (and class interaction) will be posted in purple.

This year our first two grandchildren will be married. Within a few years as many as 10 of their cousins are likely to reach a point in their lives where they will follow into the wonderful world of family creation.  That happy prospect has caused me deep contemplation as they have asked me for advice. Essentially they have asked, 
“What choices could I make that will lead me to happiness?” 
And on the other hand, “What choices are likely to lead me to unhappiness?”
We took the time to discuss these two questions - and had a good perspective given from different generational sisters - one of the younger sisters mentioned that it feels like anything not molly mormon was viewed as leading to unhappiness - at least as far as leaders go.  This led to some insight given by an older sister who brought to light that if there is doubt about the right-ness of something, it probably isn't.  Conflicted choices, often lead to less options and breed doubt and fear.  It was something I hadn't considered before, but she is right!! 
Heavenly Father has made each of us unique. No two of us have exactly the same experiences. No two families are alike. So it is not surprising that advice about how to choose happiness in family life is hard to give. Yet a loving Heavenly Father has set the same path to happiness for all of His children. Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God.
For all of us, including my grandchildren contemplating marriage, there is one overarching commandment that will help us to meet the challenges and lead to the heart of a happy family life. It applies to all relationships regardless of circumstances. It is repeated throughout the scriptures and in the teachings of the prophets in our day. Here is the Bible wording of the Lord’s advice to all who want to live together forever in loving happiness:
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  “This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”1
From that simple statement it is not hard to summarize all I have learned about what choices lead to happiness in families. I start with the question, “What choices have led me toward loving the Lord with all my heart and soul and with all my mind?” For me it has been to choose to put myself where I felt the joy of forgiveness through the Lord’s Atonement.
I felt like our earlier discussion really set the tone for this quote - and I reiterated that the focus of his talk was about happiness in families, not personal happiness (tho that is a contributor).  In order to support and lead our families as life progresses - women in particular are faced with setting the internal temperature of a household.  We've all heard the quote - When Momma isn't happy - nobody's happy - and that's true.  I share of an incident when my children were young  and I had just returned from a trip away from home.  The kids, unused to being in their Dad's full-time care, were a bit out of sorts.  Our home a little worse for wear, but all in all fine.  My flight had been turbulent and I was grumpy and out of sorts myself.  As I walked in the front door, I was greeted and a bit overwhelmed by the kids in various states of happiness and distress and my home in the same state and I got mad.  I yelled instead of loving and after a short time out to regain my bearings I could see the immediate effects my behavior had had on them.  They were in what I call tiptoe mode - and the stress was palpable.  I knew in that moment without a doubt I had a calling to do my absolute best to not put them, or the spirit of my home at risk again - it was a defining moment about how our attitudes lead to our choices.  
The pressures at every stage of life can tempt us to reject or neglect calls to serve the Savior. That can put us in spiritual peril for ourselves, our spouse, and our families. Some of those calls may seem unimportant, but my life, and my family, was changed for the better by my accepting a call to teach a deacons quorum. I felt the love of those deacons for the Savior and His love for them.
I have seen that happen in the life of a former stake and mission president in his call to him to advise a teachers quorum. I know of another who has been a bishop and then an Area Seventy who was used by the Lord to succor a boy in a teachers quorum who was hurt in an accident. The miracles from that service touched many lives, including mine, and increased their love for the Savior.
While serving others, we are most likely to plead for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Success in the Lord’s service always produces miracles beyond our own powers. The parent facing a child in serious rebellion knows that is true, as does the visiting teacher approached by a woman seeking comfort when her husband told her he was leaving her. Both servants are grateful they prayed that morning for the Lord to send the Holy Ghost as a companion.
It is only with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage free from discord. I have seen how that companionship is crucial for felicity in a marriage. The miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven, and it takes time. Our goal is to live together forever in the presence of Heavenly Father and our Savior.
It seems like taking on more responsibility would cause more stress and conflict instead of reducing it, but in fact, when we act in the stead of our callings - blessings and spiritual relief come and we are rewarded with greater benefits than we can imagine.  Our bishop's wife shared how things became more definitive for her after her husband was called and then she was called into young women's.  She mentioned how she was less inclined to focus on the little things, and instead those things sorted themselves as they followed the spirit's promptings.  Our RS president also mentioned similar experiences when she was overwhelmed and soft, tender mercies occurred because she followed the impressions that allowed her to act as Heavenly Father would want her to.  
I also shared a personal experience while going through my divorce, of struggling on personal things and trying to balance that with single parenting, full-time school, and full-time work responsibilities.  When I accepted the call of Primary chorister in addition, somehow adding that gave me critical spiritual feedings and support that I did not feel the pressures the way I know I would have if I had denied the call.  Also, having the responsibility of teaching music at that time gave me a wonderful coping mechanism through music.  And sometimes that's how calls work - they are for us, as much as they are to fill a need.
Heavenly Father has perfect foresight, knows each of us, and knows our future. He knows what difficulties we will pass through. He sent His Son to suffer so that He would know how to succor us in all our trials.
I felt impressed to point out that Pres. Eyring said He knows "EACH" of us.  Not he knows all of us, or some of us, or those who are deserving.  He knows EACH of us, individually.  
We know that Heavenly Father has spirit children in this world who sometimes choose sin and great unhappiness. That is why He sent His Firstborn to be our Redeemer, the greatest act of love in all creation. That is why we must expect that it will take the help of God and time to polish us for eternal life, to live with our Father.
And this is where the power of the Atonement is critical for each of us to find happiness.  Every single one of us must build an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father so that we can more fully accept the gift given for us.  And all of us at one time or another may face that same choice of sin and great unhappiness - we're unhappy so we won't pick that again!  Getting to know our Heavenly Father personally through prayer and scripture study allows us to take on challenges and hard things (whatever those may be) because....
Life in families will test us. That is one of God’s purposes in giving us the gift of mortality—to strengthen us by passing through tests. That will be especially true in family life, where we will find great joy and great sorrow and challenges which may at times seem beyond our power to endure them.
President George Q. Cannon said this about how God has prepared you and me and our children for the tests we will face: “There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels—invisible beings of power and might—charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”2
What President Cannon taught is true. You will need that assurance, as I have needed it and depended on it.  I have prayed with faith that someone I loved would seek and feel the power of the Atonement. I have prayed with faith that human angels would come to their aid, and they came.  God has devised means to save each of His children. For many, that involves being placed with a brother or a sister or a grandparent who loves them no matter what they do.
Years ago a friend of mine spoke of his grandmother. She had lived a full life, always faithful to the Lord and to His Church. Yet one of her grandsons chose a life of crime. He was finally sentenced to prison. My friend recalled that his grandmother, as she drove along a highway to visit her grandson in prison, had tears in her eyes as she prayed with anguish, “I’ve tried to live a good life. Why, why do I have this tragedy of a grandson who seems to have destroyed his life?”
The answer came to her mind in these words: “I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.”
There is a wonderful lesson for us all. The way for loving parents and grandparents and all of God’s servants will not be easy in a decaying world. We cannot force God’s children to choose the way to happiness. God cannot do that because of the agency He has given us.
As my own children were growing up - THIS was my favorite response when they would rail against something I was requesting - I can't make you do anything, but there are consequences either way.  For me that was as critical a lesson as the life is not fair discussion - NO ONE can force anyone to do anything.  In fact WE must purposely choose (and yes not choosing IS a choice) what direction we go - and by so doing, we also dictate the direction of our relationship and our families.  
Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son love all of God’s children no matter what they choose to do or what they become. The Savior paid the price of all sins, no matter how heinous. Even though there must be justice, the opportunity for mercy is extended which will not rob justice.
Alma expressed that hope to his son Corianton in these words: “Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.”3
We discussed again the same questions that we talked about at the beginning of the lesson, what leads us to or away from happiness?  
What is our responsibility in families?  
and finally - what advice will you give to your future (or existing) grandchildren?
I reiterated Pres. Eyring's thoughts....
My message then to my grandchildren, and to all of us trying to forge eternal families, is that there is joy guaranteed for the faithful. From before the world was, a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son loved and worked with those who They knew would wander. God will love them forever.  You have the advantage of knowing that they learned the plan of salvation from the teachings they received in the spirit world. They and you were faithful enough to be allowed to come into the world when many others were not.

With the help of the Holy Ghost, all truths will be brought to our remembrance. We cannot force that on others, but we can let them see it in our lives. We can always take courage from the assurance that we all once felt the joy of being together as a member of the beloved family of our Heavenly Father. With God’s help we can all feel that hope and that joy again. 

No comments:

Post a Comment