In just a few weeks, my husband Joe and I will be celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary. We have raised four wonderful children and look forward to many more years together. I feel we have a cohesiveness in our relationships as we support each other in our aspirations and hardships, and enjoy being together. I also believe that building family unity has been a key component. In fact, I believe building family unity coupled with personal revelation, no matter your circumstances, is a critical component in raising the up-and-coming generations.
Hmm…Considering my dear, sweet husband has not joined the Church even after over 40 years of marriage, and three of my four children are not active in the Church, is it possible I have missed something along the way? Do I live in an illusion that Joe and I have built any basis of family unity considering we do not even have the same spiritual foundation?
At times, I must admit I begin to criticize myself for having failed so miserably in this most important family responsibility, feeling I must not be a good enough example and dwell on my many mistakes; then I stop and reflect the counsel I have received through my life.
Before I was ever married and had children, my father gave me this wise counsel; “Don’t raise your children for your generation, raise them for theirs.” Even though I was only a teenager at the time, I took my father’s counsel seriously along with a new idea I’d recently heard, of praying for my future husband.
These ideas led me to seek Heavenly Father’s guidance with more intention. The first thing that came to mind was to read all the standard works. I had read the Book of Mormon a few times, but never had read any of the other scriptures cover to cover. I feel the need to mention I never attended Seminary nor did I know what they did during class, yet, the Lord knew my desire to learn. So, like many other Latter-day Saint high school students, I read the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
At the end of high school, I asked my father for my first “requested” Father’s Blessing. During this blessing, understanding and direction were given to me for those things I had prayed about concerning my future family.
I feel inspired to tell you . . . we are living in the last days and that those spirits who have been saved for this time are special spirits; that they are needed to carry out a great and vital and important work at this time. That this is a crucial time in the affairs of mankind and that valiant and strong and worthy spirits were saved for this particular time. And it will be your calling and your great privilege to bring some of these spirits into the world and to give them the proper instruction, guidance, and environment, that they may be able to fulfill the mission that they have been saved for and that their time on Earth will not be wasted.
When considering my father’s counsel to raise my children for their generation, I believed he recognized the need and difficulty to navigate unknown waters as the expectations of the community he was raised differed greatly from mine. Like him, my childhood world and the principles taught barely resemble the United States my children and especially my grandchildren live in today. So, how do we negotiate the many facets of this journey? I believe building family unity is a key component in alliance with seeking personal revelation for specific guidance and direction.
In the April 2023 General Conference, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated, “With God’s help you can learn to know your children in a pure and heavenly way. I invite you to accept God’s offer to guide your family by personal revelation. Seek His guidance in your prayers.” (Jesus Christ Is the Strength of Parents; April 2023; General Conference.)
President Nelson has made it clear how crucial revelation is and how to receive it. He exclaimed, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. ” (Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives; April 2018; General Conference.)
President Nelson continued to counsel all to pray daily for revelation and give thanks to the Lord. He has encouraged us to truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern & understand His promptings. (Pure Truth, Pure Doctrine, and Pure Revelation; October 2021; General Conference.)
With the understanding of the importance of developing personal revelation, I turned to another sacred blessing which I obtained after I was married and had three of my four children. The importance of building family unity seemed to be one of the central themes. It was mentioned at least four times in this blessing, along with giving me counsel on how to become unified.
Here I share some of the key points of counsel given:
- As a covenant people, you have the right to call upon the Lord for His help and guidance.
- By practicing the celestial principles of faith, love, respect, honesty, integrity and service in your home, the fruits of joy, happiness, unity, and righteousness will grow within your family, preparing you and your family for the eternities.
- Remember your family and ancestry. Teach your children the value of their family heritage and be grateful for that heritage. It is a blessing as well as a responsibility.
- The power of your example and your love of your family, spouse, and the gospel will lead to a unity which will take you to the temple where eternal covenants will be made.
- Power and influence will be given you as a parent to be exercised with humility and patience, coupled with continued prayer, devotion to duty, and increased love and concern for your family.
- Promote love and concern for each other that they may see the power and goodness of the gospel principles and may all return to our Father in Heaven united as a family.
- Be grateful and express thanks to your Father in Heaven, to your spouse, and family for the great things they have done and what they mean to you and you will be able to build unity and faith.
Elder Ulisses Soares stated in his October 2022 Conference address that “we can look at the sacred and eternal bond established by God between our first parents, Adam and Eve. They became one flesh, creating a dimension of unity that allowed them to walk together with respect, gratitude, and love, forgetting about themselves and seeking each other’s well-being on their journey to eternity. . . Those same characteristics are what we strive for in a united marriage today.” (In Partnership with the Lord; October 2022; General Conference.)
What about those who are single parents? Elder Soares continued to teach that “[as] single parents . . . within their family sphere and in partnership with the Lord,” can decide to “devote their lives to the spiritual and temporal care of their children.” Keeping “covenants made with the Lord and His eternal promises despite their” situations, they can “look forward with a perfect brightness of hope and confidence to the blessings the Lord has in store for them.” (In Partnership with the Lord; October 2022; General Conference.)
For both women and men who are not married or do not have children, their roles as mentors, counselors, aunts & uncles, cousins and friends, in partnership with the Lord can be a great influence in helping to build family unity.
As Elder Ulisses stated, “[T]he Savior set the perfect example of unity and harmony of purpose and doctrine with our Father in Heaven. . . I testify to you that as we—women and men—work together in a true and equal partnership, we will enjoy the unity taught by the Savior as we fulfill the divine responsibilities in our marriage relationships. I promise you, in the name of Christ, that hearts will be “knit together in unity and in love one towards another, we will find more joy in our journey to eternal life, and our capacity to serve one another and with one another will multiply significantly.” (Elder Ulisses Soares; In Partnership with the Lord; October 2022; General Conference.)
I have four wonderful children who love each other, believe in God, and know Jesus Christ is their Savior. I have a wonderful husband who is not a member of the Church, yet has supported me in all of my Church callings even when it has been hard on him as he has needed to take on greater responsibilities, and who walked by my side as we cared for my parents for twelve years. I feel our family has a cohesiveness in our relationships and believe that building family unity has been a key component in successfully raising our children.
I believe all are needed in helping to raise the current generation no matter your circumstances. Whether you are married with children or not, are a single parent or never had children, you can partner with the Savior to help build family unity. And even if your efforts seem to fall short, I believe by keeping covenants, following the counsel given, and enduring to the end, the Savior’s Atonement will make up the difference.