“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
– David O. McKay
Everyone struggles. Everyone makes mistakes. Because God knew we'd all need support, he gave us families.
My wife's grandmother died earlier this week, so we've been visting family for the funeral this weekend. It's been wonderful to see everyone and catch up. The funeral service was beautiful, though both my wife and I were exhausted from the trip and from preparations and visiting the night before. It was a good day, but also a day where it was difficult to remain patient with the normal stresses of family life, traveling, and kids.
Through the day, and really over the past few weeks, I've been pondering on the importance of family - of a mother and father who are committed to each other and have a stable marriage. My wife's grandmother's life was a wonderful example both of how a committed parent should act and of the blessings that come from working hard to build strong family relationships.
Families are profoundly important to the stable, secure development of children. As I participated in the service, I kept thinking about how much I want what my wife's grandparents worked so hard for - a strong family, rooted in the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The benefits and blessings of that hard, difficult work were on full display today. I am extremely blessed and humbled to be a part of her family and of mine.
Strong families provide the scaffolding where the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be taught, where lessons can be learned, and everyone in the family can be led back to our Father in Heaven. Only in strong families can a mother and father use their divine gifts and roles to create an environment where children have the best chance to be taught and grow in truth.
Traveling with kids can be difficult. Raising kids is difficult. Maintaining strong families is difficult. It's hard work. Satan, the Enemy, wants us to fail. He wants us to think we can't do it or that other things in life are more important. Nothing is more important than the work of teaching the Gospel, and the place this is best accomplished is in the home. To have hope for the future, focusing on the correct "why" we approach the work we do in our families makes all the difference.
One of my favorite Country Music songs sums family life and the required attitude for successful families up well by listing a bunch of problems his family encounters in each verse, and then repeating in the chorus:
"Well, it's ok. It's so nice
It's just another day in paradise
Well, there's no place that
I'd rather be
Well, it's two hearts
And one dream
I wouldn't trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise"
– Phil Vassar, Just Another Day in Paradise
His attitude toward his family – of "just another day in paradise" – is a choice and it makes a world of difference.
Strong families, rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, take hard work and dedication. Every day comes with ups and downs, mistakes and joys. But with diligence and dedication come the blessings and fruits.
The best things in life and in the eternities require faith, hope, charity and hard work.
I follow Christ and make the choices I do because He knows the way, teaches truth, and leads us back to our Father in Heaven in families. I do my work in my family because I want all of them to have the knowledge and opportunity to help bring their future families and rest of God's family back to Him.
Christ's Gospel is about saving God's children in and through families.