Are we Dedicated to Strengthening Families?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Every person is part of both a spiritual family and an earthly family. I believe that families are the most important unit of anything that God has created on this earth. Earthly families have the great potential of being together forever, whether they are just a husband and wife or parents with several children. In respect to the time after the Savior comes again, Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 reads, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” Because families are so important, it is vital that we work to keep the bonds and relationships strong.

How do we strengthen our family? When I think of examples of strong families, I think of how they look happy to be together. I believe that when love is tenderly nurtured in the home, joy and happiness are there. In Ecclesiastes 9:9 it says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” The reward or portion of the reward we receive in this life, is our family. They are the reason for the work we do and when we love them, we will find true joy. I think love is the key tool to strengthening our families.

Additionally, one of the greatest sources of strength that we can have in this life, is prayer. Through prayer, the Lord can bless our families to be able to get through any difficulty and to stay strong when times are good as well. Prayer together builds a unity that will be lasting. In 3 Nephi 18:21 we read, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” My family has been greatly blessed for praying together. Hearing my husband pray on my behalf, gives me support in such a personal way that it shows just how much he cares for me. I believe our children will benefit from hearing us pray for them and all the things they are dealing with in their days. I know it may sound silly, but I truly believe that the ‘family that prays together, stays together’.

Mark 9:37 says, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Children are a gift from God. Part of strengthening our families is taking on the responsibility to have them if we are able. I understand that this decision really is between couples and Heavenly Father, but there are so many people in the world today, who are choosing to have careers and focus on worldly things, instead of receiving one of these beautiful spirits into their families. Having children is challenging and difficult, but the life lessons we learn and the growth that we attain will strengthen our families greatly. The earth was created for this purpose. In Isaiah 45:18 we read, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” The earth serves its purpose when we bring children into the world. I know that having children when we are capable, is one of the greatest ways that we can be strengthened as married couples.

In a family, strength comes from teaching and learning together. Parents should always be looking for ways to teach their children things that are both spiritual and secular. Learning from one another, sharing understandings, and seeking for answers together, will bring families closer together. In Moses 5:12 it says, “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” Our first parents were the first example of teaching all that they knew to their sons and daughters. When we work to teach one another, I believe the Lord will bless us all with greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 24:5 reads, “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” I know that this also applies to families as a whole. We should seek for wisdom and knowledge as a family so that we can nourish one another and become stronger as a whole.

Strengthening our families is helped when we honor one another. In Exodus 20:12, we read the following commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Our parents deserve our honor and respect. Likewise, children need to be respected also. If we say or do anything to tear one another down, instead of saying things to encourage, compliment and uplift each other, we are not adding the strength that our families need. The things we choose to do will reflect greatly on our family name. Moreover, a strong family is one where the individuals live in a way to make the whole family proud. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “. . . A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” I know this goes both ways and as parents we need to remember that we do not want to do anything to shame our children either.

We strengthen our families by being a good example of righteous principles. Likewise, a bad example can weaken a family. Jacob 2:35 reads, “. . . Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.” Applying the principles of the gospel to our lives makes us stronger as individuals and in turn builds our family up as well. Job 17:9 says, “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” The Lord blessed the righteous and faithful. When we live righteously, we gain the strength to be more capable of enduring through the difficulties of every day life. As part of the learning process to gain this strength, the Lord will show our families where we need to improve. We learn this in Ether 12:27, which reads, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” When we humble ourselves as families, we make the decisions to change things we do as a group. For example, our family recognized, through inspiration of the spirit, that we had a weakness when it came to the things we chose to watch on tv. When we faithfully humbled ourselves and removed those shows that were not good for us, we grew together as a family. The Lord has promised us that “. . . he that is faithful shall be made strong in every place . . .” (see D&C 66:8).

Our family will be strengthened when we are actively in defense against Satan and his influence. We are in defense mode when we live the things that the Savior has taught. In Ephesians 6 we read the following:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

We need to be vigilant in not allowing Satan’s influence into our families. There is so much in the world today that is working to break the family unit down. Our attitudes, the things we choose to be entertained by, and the worldly things we seek after can break down our family relationships without us even realizing it. Doing things together such as family home evening, scripture study, prayer, attending church, serving others, and wholesome activities, will bring our families closer together and keep Satan’s influences from so easily breaking us down.

Greater still, our families will be strengthened when we make the choice to be sealed for time and all eternity. As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that God has given us the ability to become forever families. Authorized priesthood holders, in temples of the Lord, are able to bind worthy families eternally to one another and to God. This is a greater commitment than anything we can be a part of in this life. Because my own family is sealed, I am more aware of how the things I choose to do will affect us as a group both in this life and after it. In Malachi 4:6 we read, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” I believe the greater version of this promise can be found in Joseph Smith-History 1:39, which says, “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” These promises can only be realized through the amazing blessings of being sealed as a family. I don’t know what greater source of strength there can be in a family, than to know that they are able to be with each other forever.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should strive to help other families to be strengthened as well. We need to stand up for families in the world today. We should support those things that lead to building families and fight against the evils that seek to drive families apart. Making our families a priority over careers and other extra-curricular activities, shows others the true value of family. We should live as examples of happy families and show others how our families can bring us the most joy and fulfillment in life. Being consistent with our family traditions and such (i.e. family holidays, prayer, game nights, scripture study, dinners, etc.) will stand as a bright example to others. Doing things together like playing, learning, and simply being together, will show others that we care about our family relationships. We need to help others to see that it is never okay to disrespect or dishonor our family members. We should never talk bad about our family members, gossip even if it may be true, or say or do anything that would make them feel bad. Being an example of love towards our family, in our words and actions, will go a long way in building other families up. Moreover, remember that even though we are part of separate earthly families, we are all part of the same spiritual family. The more we can share this gospel principle and that we really can be part of an eternal family, the stronger our spiritual family will be.

I cannot truly express in words, just how grateful I am for my family. I love my husband and children with all my heart. I am so grateful for my parents and siblings and all that I have learned and continue to learn from them. I rejoice in the hope of being with all of them forever. I am grateful for the things I learn from the Relief Society, and the church and gospel, which help to build and strengthen my family more each day. I hope that others can recognize just how important it is for us to work on strengthening our families and also helping others to have strong families as well.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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