Saturday, February 25, 2017

FAML 300 Week 8: Beware of Pride

This week we are learning about pride, or the need for the opposite—humility. I feel that it is really interesting to see that the main definition that comes up when doing an internet search for what pride means is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements.” Basically feeling good about the things you do. That doesn’t sound so bad? So strange that this word is so well known as something that is a compliment or a feeling of accomplishment, “I am so proud of you!”
However, in the scriptures it seems to be something bad, not just bad, but something that leads to destruction. “ Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). 

President Benson in a suit, a white shirt, and glasses, standing and speaking to the audience at general conference.
President Beonson speaking in General Conference
President Ezra Taft Benson taught in his great sermon “Beware of Pride” in 1989:
“In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3–7; Alma 5:61.) … The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.”

 A photograph of a man and woman holding hands, paired with a quote by President Thomas S. Monson: “There is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save.”

It is no wonder that the Evil One would want us forget what pride really is if it is the “power by which [he] wishes to reign over us.” In our marriages it is especially destructive. In our text “Drawing Heaven into your Marriage,” Goddard reminds us how our culture today focuses so much the satisfaction and happiness of self. He quotes Roy Baumeister, “Many Americans today can no longer accept the idea that love requires sacrificing oneself or making oneself unhappy or doing things that do not serve one’s individual best interests.” In Matthew 10:39 we read that “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” So in reality, we will never find love or happiness unless we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for it.


I remember a conversation I had a while ago with another young mom. She felt restless and wanted to do something fulfilling, she was trying to get me to sign-up for a dance class with her. Now I am not saying you should never find ways to grow and use your talents, but I felt that if I did do a dance class at that time in my life I would be sacrificing my family for my own wants. There is a time and a season, and that was not the time for me. So it is in marriage. If a spouse is not devoting and sacrificing time and energy to making their marriage work, it is going to fail.

Being humble and sacrificing for each other strengthens a marriage.
How does this fit in with pride? If we are always keeping our thoughts in selfishness then we are opening ourselves to becoming proud. We will want more for ourselves: dress more attractively, be more successful at work (or more successful than the other guy, leading us to spend less time at home), have nicer stuff (home, furnishings, cars), etc.
We need to cultivate an attitude of humility. Goddard shares that humility turns our hearts toward God and helps us to be open to understanding that we don’t know everything or need everything. Our hearts will be open to our spouse and their needs. He also quotes Joseph Smith, “The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing [spouses]; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs … if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on [your spouses].

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He is always there cheering me along.

I am thankful to have a husband that always is looking for ways to serve. Just yesterday I was having a hard day, children were not getting along, there was no school and too much time and not enough to occupy them. I expressed my weariness to my husband on the phone and he talked about how he had wanted to go jogging when he got home, but instead would take the children out so that I could have a break. I know how much he longs to get out to jog, and yet he is willing to put it off and give me a break. That is one small example of how my husband show that I am important to him. Instead of thinking of himself, he thought of me.
When we reach and lose ourselves in serving and listening to our spouses, we actually find our lives more full and abundant than if we focused on filling our own desires.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

FAML 300 Week 7: Staying Emotionally Connected

A view of a part of the earth from space, with the moon seen in the distance.

We came to earth to grow and learn. I have a son who would love to quit school and spend all day and every day in the imaginary world in his bedroom. In fact he is so consistent with his dream that he has spent years telling us almost on a daily basis that he quits school “end of story.” Seriously, he has been on this rant for years, saying the same thing almost daily. I have to give him credit for being persistent. Yet, I cannot give into his demands because we are here on earth to grow and make something of our lives. We can’t just sit in the back room of life full of dreams and no action.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I thought I had this life thing figured out. In my mind I had reached the pinnacle of understanding physically, mentally, and spiritually. I felt like if the Savior’s second coming came then, I was ready to meet Him. Then real life started. I moved to my own apartment, met my future husband, and before my sophomore year of college was done I was married. Even then, life seemed almost perfect with a few stretching times. We were truly tested when we had our children.

Gone were the perfectly controlled days
 In the book I referenced last time, “Drawing Heaven into your Marriage,” Goddard said, "Marriage is God's graduate school for advanced training in Christian character" (p. 8). There is so much that can test and try us. We experience irritations as I noted last week, there are disagreements, also the strains and stresses that are constantly pulling the marriage and family away from each other. 

Take time for each other
This week our focus is on staying connected emotionally with our spouse by turning toward each other. The scriptures teach us to “be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great" (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33). We can lay this foundation of good by focusing on the good and turn toward each other through those many small acts that create meaning and build a strong relationship. It could be as simple as a wink or a smile, a text to say “I miss you,” a phone-call on your break at work. Doing these kinds of things helps your spouse to know that they are important to you and that you love them.

 A conceptual photograph showing a young man standing on a large rock surrounded by stacks of boulders, paired with the words “Rock Solid.”

As we practice turning toward our spouse to stay emotionally connected we will build a foundation that can withstand the strains and stresses that come into the family. God is training us and teaching us the lessons that will bring us closer to Heaven. Just as my son wishes he didn’t have to put forth the energy it takes to learn his spelling, cursive, math, reading; we may not wish to put forth the effort to overcome the trials, irritations and disagreements. “Irritation [and I would add any trial] is an invitation to better thinking and acting. … It is a matter of replacing irritation with compassion and charity; replacing accusation with humility; replacing frustration with invitation” (p. 57). Goddard continues to say, “Every time we are inclined to drop out of a life commitment, God is inviting us to solve the unpleasant chafing by becoming more like Him” (p. 57).

 A green striped background, combined with a quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Let us be true to our covenants."

I hope to wear the cap, gown, and honor cords of graduation when this life is over. I know it won’t be easy, but in the end it the trials will end up making eternal graduation worth it. Lastly, Goddard has taught me “Having faith does not make everything easy. Rather, faith makes life and its challenges both bearable and meaning-filled.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

FAML 300 Week 6: Cherishing Your Spouse

This week we are focusing on what we can do to cherish our spouse. My husband is so easy to cherish. One of the activities this week was to practice over-looking the things that usually bother you and to focus instead on cultivating an attitude of admiration in your heart for your spouse. I have to say that it is so easy for me to admire my husband; I hope you don't mind me saying. I think we were to do this to that our hearts can be more aware and softened, especially if we are struggling with negative thoughts, to the many wonderful things our spouses do for us and our family. Just to give you a few of my examples: I am always amazed at how much my husband sacrifices. He gives by going to work and being his best their. He gives by going to work a little early to be home a little early so that I can have support during those "witching" hours of the day. I know he says he loves to make dinner, but that is such a chore for me that I am always so thankful he gives to us in that way. He takes care of our home. He makes time to be with us. I could go on and on ... and on and on.

 A purple graphic with a quote by Elder Richard G. Scott: “Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you.”

You know what is interesting? Just writing out all these thoughts about him gives me a warm feeling of love and gratitude in my heart. It really works. Cherishing your spouse makes your love grow stronger.

Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage

I referenced one of the books we are reading for this class last week, and this week I would like to add the other amazing book, “Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage,” by H. Wallace Goddard. In chapter two—the chapter we read for this week on obedience and sacrifice—Goddard first tells us that life if full of afflictions and tensions. He says, “In every relationship there is an inevitable tension. It is often worse in marriage than other relationships, in part because we share so much.” The chances to be bothered or offended are always before us, so what can we do to not let those irritations destroy us and our relationships?

 A statue of Adam and Eve standing together, with Adam reaching toward a tree shown in a mural.

Goddard shares that we can learn a great deal from our first parents, Adam and Eve. They experienced many hardships and trials. Goddard teaches, “The curse was and is a blessing. Through our labors and struggles, we will learn to know good from evil. We will suffer the bitter taste of evil … [and] learn to enjoy the sweet fruits of goodness. We can learn to choose and cherish the good.”

 A painting by Del Parson showing Adam and Eve kneeling next to an altar of stone in the midst of some green trees.

Adam and Eve were able to do all this because they turned their hearts first to God, calling on Him for help and guidance. Through inspiration from God, and His power, they were able to live out their lives and put off the natural man and become sanctified. We too can turn to God and pray for help in putting off the natural man (or our inner natural spouse) and be able to love and cherish our spouse. Goddard tells us we have to pay “Heaven’s Price” if we want to have a “close, loving marriage.” We do this through sacrifice. We sacrifice our own wants and desires, and do God’s will in becoming selfless.  “The better we get,” Goddard says, “the more we will use our strength to bless.” In a sense, we don’t give and sacrifice ourselves where there becomes no “me;” instead you use all your talents and abilities to bless and cherish your spouse.

 A photograph of a woman and child, paired with a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “As we extend our hands … in … love, … our own spirits become healed.”

Christ is our example, he sacrificed his all for us, and through this sacrifice we are all made alive. In Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” I would say it goes the other way as well, "She that loveth her husband loveth herself."

A photograph of a yellow flower combined with a quote by Sister Marriott: “Love is making space in your life for someone else.”
As we take Christ’s example we will have the beautiful marriage we hope for, because where there is pure love and sacrifice hearts are filled is more love and happiness. Our perspective will focus on the good instead of the bad. Our hearts will be filled with gratitude toward God and our wonderful spouse. We will be able to say as Eve said, “Were it not for our [trials, we] never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11)