Monday, September 17, 2012

That the Lost May Be Found

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

That the Lost May Be Found, by M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Upon seeing our family yesterday, someone asked why three of my children have red hair like their mother and only one looks just like me. Before I could answer, my wife jumped in with, "because redheads are strong!" If ever I felt outnumbered it was when I looked at my wife and oldest two children and saw them all looking at me with a playful you-know-we-can-take-you-down look. The littlest redhead was simply smiling at me, sensing something funny was happening.

I thought of this as I read Elder Ballard's talk where he says, "husbands and wives, you should be equal partners in your marriage. . . No one owns a spouse or children; God is the Father of us all and has extended to us the privilege of our own family. . . to help us become more like Him."

I quote this because it's sometimes hard to feel like an equal partner when I'm surrounded by calculating redheads! See for yourself, but don't let their smiles fool you...

I'm only joking, of course; my wife and children are angels (most of the time), even the one without red hair! In fact, in my last post, I wrote about how sad I am that I no longer get to teach side-by-side with my beautiful wife.

I'm trying to say that I love my wife and children, and that we're trying to be a happy family. In fact, we've had a bit of a theme song lately, "A Happy Family" (link). This is a song that our eldest asks us to sing to him each night, and our middle son has spontaneously started singing it many times—he even incorporates it into his prayers: "Please bless that I love Mommy, she loves me, we love Daddy, yes sirree, he loves us, and so you see, we are a happy family! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!" (He often includes all the children in his song-prayer, too.)

Yes, I love my family, but yesterday was kind of hard for me. After going to church early for choir practice, staying a bit late for an interview, heading out immediately after church to go visit some people, coming home with just enough time for dinner before heading out again for an evening meeting, and coming home after everyone was asleep, I was longing for more together-time. Interestingly, on the hour drive home from my meeting, a friend I rode with and I had a discussion that closely resembled points made by Elder Ballard—albeit our were not nearly as politically correct. Here are some connections:
  • My friend and I spoke of political hot topics, including income gaps and apparent-abuse of government assistance. After alluding to marriage/divorce statistics, Elder Ballard mentioned the worrisome "ever-growing gap between the rich and poor and between those who strive to preserve family values and commitment and those who have given up on doing so."
  • We pontificated that the economic (and social) situation of this nation would improve if many mothers who didn't need to work would return home to their families. Elder Ballard taught young women that "no career can bring you as much fulfillment as rearing a family."

We spoke about many other things, but I think listing each point will be too tiring for readers, so I'll venture using a too-long quote in case you're dying for more insights into our conversation. Surprisingly, without reviewing this talk beforehand, we discussed each of Elder Ballard's points found n the following (I know you see a loooong quote and naturally want to skip it—I'll never know if you do skip it—but I thought it was quite thought-provoking):

When people make family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well.

And, of course, societies at large are strengthened as families grow stronger. Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect. When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase their chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly safety nets are required. . .

The Church stands as an example of heart turning and as a catalyst for good in the world. Among Church members who are married in the temple and who regularly attend Sunday meetings, the divorce rate is significantly less than that of the world, and families remain closer and are in more frequent communication. The health in our families is better, and we live several years longer than the population average. We contribute more financial resources and more service per capita to those in need, and we are more likely to seek higher education. I point out these things not to boast but to testify that life is better (and much happier) as hearts turn toward family and as families live in the light of the gospel of Christ.

I love that I have a happy family. Of course, there are times when I get terribly frustrated by things my children do (which turn out to be nearly meaningless in the long-term). I enjoyed the discussion my friend and I had, and I enjoyed reading Elder Ballard's words and being reminded of the blessings that come from trying to live the gospel.

Even when I'm surrounded by redheads whom I think are sometimes secretly trying to take me down!

The littlest redhead is already coming after me!

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