I will never forget a family I first met as a teenager. I was raised in a wonderful home, but I had to admit it: this family was more wonderful. Of course they weren’t perfect, but as cheesy as it sounds, this family was so wholesome and loving it really was like something out of a sixties sitcom. I loved the gentle, no-nonsense Dad, the nurturing and domestically unashamed mom. I loved their easy, innocent family fun.
My family was similar in ways to this family, but in one particular way, we were different. That difference was in the level of the spirit present in that home. Their level was kind of “off the charts”. You could feel the spirit so strongly when you walked through the door. I wasn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I met these members. I didn’t know what “the spirit” was exactly, but I could feel it. I couldn’t define it yet, but I felt that “peace that surpasseth understanding”. It was low simmer happiness. It was sublime.
Another example along these lines involves a Latter-day Saint friend of mine who told me about dating a non-member boy in high school. When they broke up the boy told her essentially, “I will miss you, but I think what I will miss even more is the feeling in your home. I will never forget that feeling”. That feeling was, you guessed it, the spirit.
My husband and I have tried hard to live by the spirit as we’ve raised children. We’ve hoped “that feeling” was in our home too. Was it? You never seem to completely know. It’s hard “to see the forest for the trees”. You are so deeply inside the life of your family, you may feel you lack perspective. Fresh perspective arrived one day when a new friend came to our home for the first time. She looked surprised and immediately asked “What is going on? What is this feeling in your house? I feel like my blood pressure just went down!” Yay!!
The apostle Joseph B. Wirthlin, in his talk “Spiritually Strong Homes and Families” discussed this need for strong homes. He quoted a report called “Children in Crisis” which said, in part:
“…Schools that once considered talking in class a capital offense are routinely [checking children] for weapons, questioning them about drugs. … A good public education, safe streets, and family dinners—with both father and mother present—seem like quaint memories of a far distant past. … The parents of nearly 2,750 children separate or divorce each day. … Every day over 500 children ages 10 to 14 begin using illegal drugs, and over 1,000 start drinking alcohol. Nearly half of all middle-schoolers abuse drugs or alcohol or [become involved in immorality].”
Then he said something unforgettable: “These and many other ills of our society today have their source in the breakdown of the family.”
He went on to say: “If Satan can weaken or destroy the loving relationships among members of families, he can cause more misery and more unhappiness for more people than he could in any other way.” Wow.
Michael J. Fox (actor) put it this way: “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.”
This brings me to a favor I would like to ask of you dear reader. I have written a book manuscript about home and family that I think could help a lot of people (especially non-members). There is publishing interest, and as I type this, the book is in the hands of one of the literary agents. Would you please send up a prayer that this little book might succeed? I believe strongly in the power of many prayers ascending to heaven together for good purpose. I would be so grateful for your help.
Elder Wirthlin knew a thing or thousand about the work and the reward of strong families. Perhaps he summed it up best when he said “The place to cure most of the ills of society is in the homes of the people. Building our homes as fortresses of righteousness for protection from the world takes constant labor and diligence. When peace and harmony abound, the Holy Spirit will ever be present. The storms of the evil one can be stopped at the very entrance of our homes.”
Amen. Then, when others enter these spirit-filled homes, they can be enveloped in the warmth and light of the spirit. They can then take the match strike inspiration they have received and light their own homes.
Can you imagine how warm and comforting the world could become?