Relief Society Lesson 9: Sacred Family Relationships

As I was preparing this lesson, I realized I would be teaching this on Mother’s Day. How fitting it is to discuss building and strengthening sacred family relationships on this day!

From the Life of Lorenzo Snow

President Snow taught: “If we are faithful we will associate with each other in an immortal and glorious state…those connections formed here, that are of the most enduring character, shall exist in eternity.”

When I think of those that I want to be with most after this mortal life, I hope to be with my family most. I desire to be with my parents and siblings and their families, my husband and my children, and even my husband’s parents and his siblings and their families. It is when I am around these people that I feel the most loved. I am grateful for the blessing of eternal families so that I may always feel of that love.

For his 70th birthday, Lorenzo Snow invited all of his children and their families to a “grand re-union and anniversary celebration.”  He urged them to let nothing prevent their attendance “except the most serious and insurmountable obstacles.”

Quote 1

The Snow family gathered from May 7 to 9, 1884, and enjoyed music, theatrical productions, speeches, poetry, games, food, and throughout the event, he attended various meetings of the family, and in the capacity of Patriarch…engaged in conferring blessings upon members: and giving much fatherly counsel, instruction and admonition.” As the reunion drew to a close, all the family came together to hear him speak. According to Eliza’s record, he expressed “his pleasure and gratitude to God that he now enjoyed the happiness of beholding the pleasant and smiling faces of his large family, and the good he anticipated would result from this reunion.” Looking out over his family, President Snow exclaimed: “My heart is filled to overflowing with warmest feelings of gratitude to my Heavenly Father…Language is powerless to express the deep feelings of my heart for this holy and sacred opportunity on this the celebration of my seventieth birthday, of standing here and beholding this glorious and heavenly inspiring spectacle.

President Snow continued explaining that this would be the last family reunion they would expect on this side of the spirit world. He encouraged all of his family to live honorably, to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and to not deviate from the straight and narrow path so that they may all have a glorious reunion in the morning of the first resurrection.

As I read this story and thought back on some experiences this last week, I started wondering about the difference between the quality and quantity of time I spend with my various family members. My family growing up was not really one to spend a lot of quantitative time together. But as I reflected back on the time we have spent together, it was great quality time. They were times we were working together toward a common goal. It brought us together to make us stronger and spiritually fed. I am grateful for those experiences. 

Why should we bring our families together?

How can we bring about good results when we bring our family together?

How can we help our families stay united? 

Family relationships are sacred and can grow stronger in eternity. 

Quote 2

Encourage marriage…and impress upon [others] the sacredness of that relation and the obligation they are under to observe that great commandment which was given of God to our first parents, to multiply and replenish the earth. This is all the more necessary in view of the present tendency in the world to disregard that law and to dishonor the marriage covenant. It is saddening to note the frequency of divorces in the land and the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of as a precious heritage from the Lord.

President Snow gave this statement directly to the women in the Relief Society 112 years ago. In what ways is this statement relevant today?

He mentions the “frequency of divorce in the land.” Again, this statement was made over 100 years ago. I haven’t done any research, but I can almost say without a doubt, the number of divorces has increased much more since that time.

He also says “It is saddening to note…the growing inclination to look upon children as an encumbrance instead of as a precious heritage from the Lord.” If this was said 100 years ago, it must be much more relevant now.  There are so many people who choose not to have children or who treat children poorly because they find them annoying. Sometimes it just breaks my heart when I see children treated this way. But I will be the first to admit I sometimes have this same attitude. I totally understand why it is so easy to treat children this way. Raising children is hard! And sometimes as a stay at home mom, it is easy to forget how important and precious my little one is in the middle of all the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth all because [insert a reason only rational to a 2-year-old, but still lacks the communication skills here]. Thank goodness for the gift of the atonement and repentance!  I can walk away when I need to, say a prayer and start over.

Quote #3:

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for his children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between mand and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife…

Husband and Wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995)

What can we do to help the youth of the Church understand the sacredness of the marriage covenant?

What can we do to help them look forward to marriage and parenthood? 

Faithful Latter-day Saints who are unable to marry or raise children in this life will be able to receive all the blessings of exaltation in the life to come. 

Lorenzo Snow discusses the doctrine of eternal families will not punish the faithful single members of the church. He praised his sister Eliza R. Snow, who was single for much of her life and did not have children. Another Relief Society leader I admire who was also single was Sister Barbara Thompson, former second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency. Both are great example of a faithful Latter-day Saint women who found other ways a woman can contribute to her faith and community.

Quote 4

People who have no opportunity of marrying in this life, if they die in the Lord, will have means furnished them by which they can secure all the blessings necessary for persons in the married condition. the Lord is merciful and kind, and He is not unjust. There is no injustice in Him; yet we could scarcely look upon it as being just when a woman or a man dies without having had the opportunity of marrying if it could not be remedied in the other life. There would be injustice in that, and we know that the Lord is not an unjust being. My sister Eliza R. Snow, I believe, was just as good a woman as any Latter-day Saint woman that ever lived, and she lived in an unmarried state until she was beyond the condition of raising a family…I cannot for one moment imagine that she will lose a single thing on that account. It will be made up to her in the other life, and she will have just as great a kingdom as she would have had if she had the opportunity in this life of raising a family.

In our family-centered church, how can we be more inclusive and appreciative of single members?

When husband and wife enjoy a oneness of feeling, they encourage love and kindess in the home. 

There was one line in this lesson that really stood out to me. President Snow taught: “See that the little trifling misunderstandings in domestic concerns do not poison your happiness.”

What are some specific ideas that can help us avoid this “poison?”

If for some reason we have been “poisoned by trifle misunderstandings,” what are some effective antidotes?

Quote #5

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).

I love President Snow’s advice to the women of the church: “Try to endure the unpleasantnesses which arise at times, and when you meet each other in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things.”

In other words, what this says to me is to pick your battles wisely. Is it really worth the argument or frustration when your husband always leaves his socks in the front room? NO! “Endure the unpleasantnesses which arise…and in the next life you will feel glad that you put up with those things.” Maybe socks won’t be necessary in the next life…just keep that in mind… 🙂 

Children learn the gospel best when their parents seek inspiration and set good examples.

 

Quote #6

This is not our work that we are engaged in, it is the work of God. We are directed in our movements by a superior intelligence…the future of this kingdom will rest on our offspring; and its power and ultimate triumph, on their education and proper training. If we wish to sway a proper influence over our families, we must show them good examples as well as give them good precepts. We should be able to say, do as I do, as well as to say do as I say.

Strive to teach your children in such a way, both by example and precept, that they will unhesitatingly follow in your footsteps and become as valiant for the truth as you have been.

Why do you think parent need to be able to say “do as I do” in addition to “do as I say?”

In what ways can parents teach by example?

Place a cup or bowl of colored water on the table and drop a dry sponge into it. Show the class how the sponge has soaked up the water. Explain the following:

Children literally soak up what is around them in their home: anger, love, gospel study, apathy, etc. We need to constantly expose our children to positive behaviors in order for them to absorb the gospel. 

Life is eternal. We come from heavenly parents who are waiting for us to return to them after we have learned the lessons of life and gained the characteristics they possess. To remind us of our heavenly home, we are given the opportunity to be parents her eon earth and raise a family of our own. Salvation is a family affair. We are placed here as families to learn how to care for one another so that we might all safely return home together. Temple marriage is a covenant partnership with the Lord that allows us to seal souls together as eternal families.

Heavenly Father has placed us here on earth in families so that we can learn to work together and help one another return to our heavenly home. If everyone – mothers, fathers, children, extended family – take responsibility for a happy family, they can all experience a little bit of heaven on earth. 

Close with Testimony

___________________________________

I hope and pray this lesson will help the sisters in my ward and that it has uplifted you. If you would like to share any thoughts and comments, please feel free to leave a comment.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful ladies! 

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