It seems the family is under attack in the world today. Marriage is trivialized and made to seem unnecessary. Women are urged to forgo yoking themselves to a man in marriage so they can focus on a career or other desire. Children are put off or made to seem like a burden on a couple. Parents divorce. Families are broken apart.
But for me, my greatest joy has come from marriage to my husband, and the children that have joined our family. I can’t imagine my life without them. They have rounded out my sharp edges, lifted me to heights I doubt I ever would have reached without them, and made me taste a little of what I imagine heaven to be like.
In September 1995, the President of our Church back then, Gordon B. Hinckley, gave the proclamation about the family. He introduced it with these words:
With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn.”
At the time, I remember thinking it was all very common knowledge. Nothing huge. The world accepted marriage between man and a woman as the norm that all adults worked toward, and brought children into the world and raised them up to be responsible adults to benefit not only them, but society at large.
But oh, how the world has changed in the past 22 years. Now, I cherish these words which you can read HERE if you’re unfamiliar with them. They are a guide to having a successful marriage and raising children in righteousness in a wicked world.
I’m an author and avid reader, and I’ve noticed a trend in some books lately to cast the heroine as shackled and bound by marriage or children. Several books have promoted the female protagonist as growing positively by casting off these chains and seeking her own happiness, instead of the happiness of others. What I see as selfish, the world views as freedom.
Motherhood is not always a glamorous job. I remember being at home with my four children and usually a few others I babysat, and some days I just wanted to cry, especially when a sick kid kept puking all over the couch, the other two children were fighting and screaming at each other, my house looked like a tornado had torn through it, and the baby was crying, but I had to ignore him to clean up the puke while I tried not to be nauseous as I thought about what to make for dinner. At those moments, I would have loved to leave my house and think of no one else but ME.
But I didn’t do it. Why? Because I loved that pukey kid who was sick, and I even loved the fighters, and my baby needed me. And my husband liked to eat, and we all needed clean clothes, and someone to hold it all together even while it outwardly appeared to be falling all apart. Though I wanted to cry, I went to work instead.
Usually, by the time I had the house in order and all the kids in bed or on their way, my husband fed and happy, and the clothes in the washer, I felt a sense of accomplishment. And my love grew each time I served my family.
Jesus Christ showed the perfect example of how to act in families. Though He was the Creator of the Universe, He never went after His own desires. He always loved others, and went out of His way to be the servant. He washed His disciples’ feet. He healed the sick. He administered to the suffering who were cast out of society, like lepers. He didn’t get annoyed when people came to Him for help–like his mother Mary at the wedding when she ran out of wine, or the man who begged him to heal his sick daughter, or others who pleaded with Him to leave what He was doing and help them. No. Jesus never sought His own pleasures. He always helped others.
Being a mom has had its hard moments, like the true scene described above, and even now that my children are adults, I still agonize over their heartaches and suffer when they suffer. But what brings me joy is their triumphs. I not only get to glory in my own successes, but that of my husband’s and children when they succeed as well.
That might be the greatest reason families bring joy. You share each others triumphs and sorrows. But even sharing someone else’s sorrows brings strength together. And seeing someone grow from their sorrows or setbacks brings the greatest joy and satisfaction I’ve ever experienced.
The Family Proclamation has outlined the way to happiness. It has declared the path to follow to receive joy. These are a few of the things it has taught me:
- Marriage and family units are important to God
- We are all created in the image of God and are His spiritual children
- Gender is part of our eternal identity and purpose
- We came to earth to learn & grow so we can return to Heavenly Father
- Bringing children to this earth (in family units) is part of God’s plan
- Life is sacred
- Happiness in family life comes by following our Lord Jesus Christ
- Faith, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities help unite us as families
- Fathers and mothers each have divine roles
- Calamities will come upon individuals, families, communities and nations if they disregard God’s teachings about the family.
I love the talk Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave at our last general conference. He said:
I testify that the proclamation on the family is a statement of eternal truth, the will of the Lord for His children who seek eternal life. It has been the basis of Church teaching and practice for the last 22 years and will continue so for the future. Consider it as such, teach it, live by it, and you will be blessed as you press forward toward eternal life.”
Teach it. Live by it. You and your family will be blessed as you do. That’s a great promise, and I can testify that it’s true, because I have used these principles to help make my own family strong. We’re not perfect. We still make mistakes. But we know how to correct those and seek happiness again. I love being married. My husband is my best friend. My confidant. My help-meet. When I’m weak, he’s strong. When he’s weak, I’m strong. My children bring me so much happiness and joy as well. I’ve loved being their mom. Sometimes they’ve hated me and felt I was the meanest mom on earth. But other times, they’ve turned to me when they are in pain and need help. I love that they know I love them. They have been patient with me as I’ve tried to figure out motherhood, and I am a better person because of their influence and presence in my life. No job or worldly success could ever compensate for what I have learned from them.
That is why I can boldly declare that families are amazing. We should promote them, not attack them. God is not a politician. He doesn’t care what the majority of voters want or desire. He isn’t going to change His stance. He loves all his children and wants them to be happy, but as a wise parent, He also knows He can’t let them do whatever they want to do. My boy always wanted to dart into the street when he was little, but I didn’t let him. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I loved him so much I didn’t want him to get hurt.
God knows our own wills could destroy us, so He’s given us commandments and shown us what to do to be safe through the Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern prophets (like the Family Proclamation). If we are humble and heed Him, we will be blessed. God’s commandments aren’t binding, constricting chains. They free us to experience true joy that the world can never mimic.
So let’s here it for families. They’re awesome!