Gospel Doctrine Lesson #45

“The Family is Ordained of God” is not only the title of the lesson but also something I have firmly believed all my life. I grew up in a non-perfect-but-still-magnificent family. My sisters are some of my best friends. I LIKE to hang with my brothers. I leave time with my family with my cheeks hurting because I have laughed so hard. It doesn’t mean we had it easy— but we had each other. I knew my family had my back— our motto is Ride for the Brand (from our childhood obsession with Louis L’Amour). When all of my colleagues bemoaned upcoming holidays for enforced family time, I was delighted to drive over the hills to get HOME. I would reroute business trips to go see family. I would show up at midnight to hang with a brother for an hour on the curb of the airport just for a chance to be with him. I would host my siblings Prom dinners. I would travel the world with them, etc. etc. In fact, my idea of celestial life is my family on a zydeco dance floor in the woods of WV.

Sheesh, I even co-authored a book about families. Trust me, I have been a believer.

Which is probably easier said when family life was, well, easier. When other people had rough situations with their clans, I felt really bad for them (and really lucky for me)— but I still thought that family was ordained of God. Those situations were unfortunate-to-terrible but I assumed they just provided an opportunity for people to do things better than their family of origin.

And then what happens when families hit bumps? Not other families, my family. Big BIG bumps?

Well, you can read the Proclamation on the Family.

The Proclamation is now twenty years old. Amazing. I remember when it first came out how deeply thrilled I was…thrilled may not be the right word…deeply peaceful is better…about finally seeing the term “co-equal” used for wives and husbands. That concept was something I had always believed but not always heard articulated in a church setting. In fact, I had often been told by well-meaning people that I just didn’t get it. To finally have something solid and real and OFFICIAL just made me exhale– and think I could believe in that kind of marriage.

I appreciated the Proclamation including a Heavenly Mother when it talks about us being made in the image of our Heavenly Parents. I like that I am reminded of my divine destiny…and that they call it the “plan of happiness” over any other term. I appreciate that the first admonition to parents about how to raise children is “in love.” I like that “wholesome recreational activities” made the list with some other more classic principles like faith and repentance.

In my world, it doesn’t matter if any external forces are attacking the family— I got enough of my own shortcomings to really know where the threat lies.

But, at the end of the day, I can work out the details. When my family hit the BIG BUMPS (as I think we all will at some point), what I personally needed was overarching belief.

Is the family ordained of God? Because, if so, then I got to buck up. Quite simply, these bumps will require an immense amount of effort, gut-wrenching growing pains, and marathonesque stamina. I’m not sure I got it in me. But, our Heavenly Parents have told us that all that is worth it. (Seriously? Do they mean that? Truly?) They think I have it in me. They think you have it in you.

A family IS the place we are to learn, grow, develop and slough off any non-shiny parts we have. The family IS the place we are to practice all we learn. To practice forgiveness, and charity, and pure love of Christ.

That theory on a piece of paper with The Family: A Proclamation to the World written across the top versus rolling out of bed in the morning and going about living it….well, those are very different things.

What are we going to do today to show we truly believe families are ordained of GOD?