It's a simple pattern and it's obvious why it's so important. Children and Converts are baptized and press forward living faithful lives and come to a point where they receive additional ordinances including sealing to spouse. Then the couple are blessed with children and the pattern continues. This pattern is "a source of spiritual strength and continuity". Once again, this is a beautiful and correct ideal to strive for. There is a song I'd like to play for you that to me encapsulates this concept really well. As it so happens, this song has always reminded me of my beautiful daughter Eden who I'm lucky enough to have here with me today along with my son, Collin.
"Whether the family will be together depends on the choices each family member makes." That statement leads back to Elder Bednar's diagram of Multi-Generational Families.
It was interesting to hear Elder Bednar's choice of the word "rupture". Back when I was still married, we were expecting our first baby. My then wife was only 8-10 weeks pregnant. I had a 4plex in Ohio I was purchasing and I was flying out there to close on it. My route took me from Salt Lake to Las Vegas and from there I was to head to Ohio. When I landed in Las Vegas I got a voicemail from my father in law saying Shannon's appendix had ruptured and she was being rushed to the hospital. When I called and talked to him he told me the doctor said it was a severe rupture and it had leaked all over her insides and they'd obviously have to operate to remove her appendix. He was fairly confident she'd be ok but, it was basically a coin toss whether or not we'd lose the baby. I booked the next plane back to SLC. It's a short flight but, it was the longest flight I've ever taken. And the drive back to Provo was even longer. I prayed and begged Heavenly Father the whole way back that mom and baby would be ok. He answered that prayer and blessed us with the most wonderful son I could've ever hoped for. And 4 years later we were blessed with the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen.
Brothers and sisters. this is why I told Carrie and Josh this would be such a hard topic for me to discuss. My own personal rupture didn't occur between A and B. It came after D. So when he talks about "weak gospel teaching and poor modeling in the home" it kinda rips my heart out because I'm obviously not there in the home. And I'm not alone. There are others here in similar situations or situations that aren't similar but, are still extremely difficult to deal with.
But, as I was talking with Carrie and Josh, a very special, very specific thought entered my mind. It was "So what?" It wasn't an insensitive "So what?" It was a kind and encouraging "So what can you and what are you going to do about it?" It came directed to me personally but, to all of us broadly at the same time.
I've had many conversations with people in our ward and outside our ward who are in the same boat we're in. I've heard people say, and I've thought many times myself when I attended a family ward "They don't know what to do with me." Well, guess what? The Lord knows what to do with us and so do I. None of us are inexperienced greenhorns anymore. By our experiences over the years Heavenly Father has taught and molded us to be in positions to help His children who are in need where others may not be able to. What I believe Heavenly Father would do with us is mobilize ourselves in strengthening our families. Whether we've had ruptures in our immediate family or extended family. Or haven't had an opportunity to form our own family yet, We all still have family.
There several stories in the scriptures where God's people toiled in the wilderness. It took Nephi's family 8 years in the wilderness before they came to the waters where they then built the ship to go to the promise land. Moses and his crew wandered around for 40 years! Surely even the most faithful amongst them had to wonder why at some point. Waiting and struggling and trying and failing and trying again is how God prepares us to be instruments in His hands. Instruments that can be used to help and heal the ruptures that are all around us. Just like the surgeon who removed my kids' mom's ruptured appendix and sewed her up and thereby saved her and my son, it was his training, experience, willingness and availability that made it possible.
Heavenly Father can and will use us to help heal those of our family members in need of healing. The extent of our effect in helping the Lord heal those ruptures is merely limited by our willingness to exert ourselves and participate in that work of healing.
Two vital miracles will take place as we take our eyes off of our own struggles to help another. 1.) We will become as our Savior is-The Great Physician, He will heal them through us and our own personal burdens will be lifted. And 2.) Father will ingrain our efforts into us that will eventually be applied in our own families when we become husbands/wives, fathers/mothers which will better arm us in preventing future ruptures within our own family units that WILL eventually come!
I testify that what Elder M Russell Ballard said is true: "Through your faith and personal righteousness in keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ, you can qualify for all of the blessings our Heavenly Father has promised to His obedient children. Some of you may not have an opportunity in mortality to fulfill every righteous desire of your heart. But, you can be certain that no eternal blessing will be denied you if you remain faithful and live the principles of the gospel throughout your earthly life."
Even if our circumstances aren't ideal. I know we can have a uplifting and positive effect on our families. They do listen. They do watch us. As an example, one thing I've tried to instill in my kids is the resolution to never ever give up. It was so funny, one day we were driving in the car and it was just kinda quiet. Out of the blue, I heard Eden talking under her breath seemingly to herself and she said in this determined little voice "Petersens never quit." Another time we were driving and I was on a business call that didn't go well at all. Collin didn't hear everything that was said but, he must've caught enough of it to know I was really disappointed and discouraged. After I hung up, he said "Dad, that didn't go so well did it?" I said, "not like I'd hoped." And he said "Dad, everything's going to be alright. Do you know why?" I said why? And he said "Because we get back up. That's what Petersen's do." Little moments like that are tender mercies to me. They ended up lifting me up with the very principles I've tried to teach them simultaneously giving me a little evidence that I can still make an impact on their lives even though our circumstances are what they are.
I believe we have so much to give. Why wait? Let's give our all. Let's bless our families. Let's practice now what we will want to teach our future children. Let's find ways to help our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, whoever needs healing. As we do so our the Savior's atonement will take effect which makes possible for our own wounds to heal. Our own burdens will be lightened. He who is The greatest of all asked of his disciples and He asks us now, "Feed my sheep." "Feed my lambs." I say we do it.
Things to tell kids: Be good. Make good choices. Be kind to everyone. Love and listen to your mother. Please always know that I love you more than all the stars. But, even more important than that, Heavenly Father loved you first and His love for you is perfect. The Savior was left completely and utterly alone in the Garden of Gethsemane so we'll never have to be. I love each and every one of you.
I support and love our Bishopric. And Bishop, I'm sorry about your ribs.