I gave this talk in church yesterday based on L. Tom Perry's conference address titled, "Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families." You can read the original talk here or watch it below!
Since being married, one of the challenges Cob and I have faced is finding ways make our own family like the families we grew up in. We both grew up in wonderful, gospel-centered homes, and we want to make sure our own family is equally wonderful. So while pondering Elder Perry's talk, there were three principles that came to mind as steps for finding lasting peace and building eternal families.
The first step in building an eternal family is creating a happy home. When I was younger, my family lived in Sugarhouse, Utah. Our kitchen sink had a small windowsill that faced the backyard, and when the sun would come up, it would shine straight through that window into the sink. My dad, noticing the sunlight, bought a few cactus plants to place in the windowsill. My mom immediately disposed of the cacti and replaced them with several flowers. With special attention and care, she was able to produce beautiful blooming plants where my dad thought only cactus could survive. I like this story because I think it shows that THE ENVIRONMENT WE CREATE IN OUR HOMES WILL DETERMINE WHAT WILL GROW. Whether we grow cacti or flowers in our home(s) depends on the atmosphere and the environment we create there. Brother Douglas R. Callister gave a talk several years ago called Our Refined Heavenly Home in which he said, "Your Father in Heaven has sent you away from His presence to have experiences you would not have had in your heavenly home—all in preparation for the conferral of a kingdom. He doesn’t want you to lose your vision. You are children of an exalted being. You are foreordained to preside as kings and queens. You will live in a home and environment of infinite refinement and beauty, as reflected in the language, literature, music, art, and order of heaven." I believe that we should strive to match our earthly homes to the beauty and spirit of our refined heavenly home. I have noticed that music plays a large part in the atmosphere in the spirit of our apartment here at Wymount. Good music helps us calm down and focus, just like bad music influences us feel more angry or excited than we would normally. I would like to make a better effort to create a happier environment in my physical home.
The second step in finding peace and building family unity is establishing good habits and fun family traditions. I love the story Elder Perry shared in his talk. There was a film Elder Perry showed at stake conferences that taught an important principle about habits. He said, "The film was narrated by President Harold B. Lee and gave an account of an occurrence in the home of his daughter. It goes something like this: One evening the mother of the home was frantically trying to finish bottling some fruit. Finally the children were ready for bed and were settled down. It was now time to get to the fruit. As she began to peel and pit the fruit, two little boys appeared in the kitchen and announced that they were ready for their bedtime prayers. Not wanting to be interrupted, the mother said very quickly to the boys, “Why don’t you just say your prayers alone tonight, and Mother will just keep working on the fruit?” The older of the two sons firmly planted his feet and asked, “Which is the most important, prayers or fruit?” (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee , 143–44.) Sometimes we find ourselves in situations when we have the opportunity to teach children a lesson which will have a lasting effect on their young lives. Of course, prayers are more important than fruit. A successful parent should never be too busy to capture a moment in a child’s life when an important lesson can be taught." In order to find lasting peace, we have to make our personal religious practices a daily priority. I believe that there is great power in knowing that you ALWAYS do something. In my family, we have a silly tradition of ALWAYS lighting the birthday candles twice. When we were little, we thought blowing out the candles on the birthday cake was the best part of the celebration, so now we light them twice. I love knowing that we always do that. Similarly, we ALWAYS attend our church meetings, we ALWAYS have FHE, and we ALWAYS read and pray together before bed at night. I think it's important to decide now what kind of family you want to be, and develop the habits necessary to become that family, so you can have peace and happiness in the future.
The last part of finding peace and building families is cultivating strong relationships with your spouse, siblings, and children. Eternal families are built on a In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it says, "Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." I find that I feel closest to Cob when we are working on something TOGETHER, whether that's grocery shopping or washing dishes or rearranging the apartment. I try to be supportive of him as well as my parents, siblings, and (eventually) my children. I loved what Elder Perry said, quoting President Hinckley, about a woman's' ability to support her family. He said, “We cannot begin to measure or calculate the influence of women who, in their own ways, build stable family life and nurture for everlasting good the generations of the future. The decisions made by the women of this generation will be eternal in their consequences. May I suggest that the mothers of today have no greater opportunity and no more serious challenge than to do all they can to strengthen the [home]” (Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes , 152). I know that building strong relationships with our families will not only bring us personal peace, but it will add to the cumulative peace of the world.
Elder Perry closed his talk by emphasizing our need for a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. He said, "We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior." I would like to add that a good relationship with Jesus Christ can help us find lasting peace and build strong eternal families.
I would like to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ and the reality of his love for us and his ability to help us. I know that if will build happy environments in our homes, develop righteous habits, and strengthen our relationships with our family as well as our Savior, we will have greater peace and happiness now as well as in the future. I hope we can remember to always do what is right and turn to the gospel when we make a mistake. I say all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.