Sunday, April 12, 2015

Eternal Families Do Not Just Happen

It seems like a lot of Mormon families and couples take it for granted that because they were sealed in the temple they will automatically have an eternal family. I certainly took it for granted, until the first major storm hit and I suddenly had to choose. I had to choose every day to walk towards that beacon of an eternal family without being able to see even a foot in front of me. I was alone and scared. When they talked about eternal families in Church I felt like I had failed in what matters most because mine was falling apart.

What I learned was that eternal families do not just take great effort. They take great faith. Because too often our eternal families will appear to be stolen from us by abuse, illness, inactivity, addiction, loneliness and so much more. It is at these crossroads that we must exercise faith to listen to the Spirit and heed its promptings. No two families will be the same and so what works for one in a crisis will not work for another. Only the Spirit and a loving Father in Heaven, of whose eternal family we are and always will be if we so choose, can guide us in achieving this divine goal - an eternal family of our own. The hope is never lost if we abide by the Spirit and put Christ at the center of our lives.

Sometimes though it may seem difficult and almost impossible to create a Christ centered home in the midst of trial. When other family members are unable to contribute or even detract from the Spirit, how do we remain close to it? I love what Cheryl A. Esplin had to say:

"Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take each member of the family do his or her part. Every home is different, but every home where even one individual seeks for truth can make a difference."

Darkness can only make a single candle shine brighter. If we carefully cultivate our individual light by staying close to the Spirit through scripture study, prayer, and service, it will shine that much brighter and act as a beacon to others. When I was struggling in my own marriage and struggling to bring the Spirit into our home I prayed fervently to know what to do to fix the situation. The firm and consistent answer I received was to cultivate my own spirituality and testimony. So I began to get more consistent about my scripture study and prayer. When the real storm hit I was spiritually prepared to turn to the Lord rather than to fall prey to fear and doubt because I had heeded the prompting to strengthen myself. In the midst of the storm I prayed, read the words of the prophets, and attended the temple with a thirst I had never before experienced. And never before have I felt the Spirit so strongly. I received a testimony that Heavenly Father and our Savior are deeply invested not only in our personal lives, but in the eternal welfare of our families. Angels and miracles will abound to save families. Even if they cannot be saved in this life or in the way we hoped for, the prayers of faithful family members will always be heard and their hearts comforted.

So, where do we start when the dream of an eternal family appears hopeless, overwhelming, and distant? We start with ourselves. The only heart we can truly give to Christ is our own. In His keeping he will heal it and make it whole, no matter how imperfect our family. He can also heal our families and guide us towards that goal if we let Him. Too often we try to repair our broken families on our own and then if our families crumble we blame ourselves. But we were never meant to do it alone. Only our Savior can create an eternally whole heart in us, and so only our Savior can help us create an eternal family. I believe the work of building eternal families continues beyond the veil, before and after this mortal life has ended. But the work we do here, the degree to which we welcome the Savior into our hearts and homes here and now, will have a lasting impact on our eternal family. If He is at the helm of our lives we will not want for family in the eternities or for happiness here.

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