Every family has problems and challenges. But successful families try to work together toward solutions instead of resorting to criticism and contention. They pray for each other, discuss, and give encouragement. Ezra Taft Benson

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lesson 9
Sacrifice is a strange topic in our day. I can’t think of any commercial, opinion, or remedy in society today that mentions sacrifice as something good or something to do. Everything from commercials and movies to doctors and remedies seem to be, “What about you?”  The remedy is whatever would make it as easy on ourselves as possible with the least amount of sacrifice. Even to life-style changes that have eternal consequences we say “Do what you feel is right for you?” That happens so often even when the answer is obviously wrong. That is what is behind every adultery case, I suppose. Sin is always rationalized to make us feel justified.

Why would you look for ways to sacrifice? Why would you look for something hard and even painful? Isn’t the point of life to keep from pain and anything difficult. The gospel gives us the answer to these questions. We are working for a much deeper happiness and a much longer existence than this life. As we make covenants and grow in obedience, we learn that “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven.”

To offer everything to God requires great faith. Joseph Smith said
“For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his
honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his
lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even
his own life also-counting all things but filth and dross for the
excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ-requires more than
mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but
actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended he
will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God.
A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has
power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation;
for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the
enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the
sacrifice of all earthly things.”

Sacrifice is often the secret to connection. When we sacrifice for someone we love them. We love God when we sacrifice for Him. When we sacrifice for a spouse we learn to love them. We don’t love them because of what they give us. Sacrifice changes things from “what’s in it for me” into “I love making him happy!” I have experienced both the taking and the sacrificing part of love. The happiest time in my marriage is all the time that I am serving and forgiving and my husband is doing the same. Because those times have been most of our marriage, when things aren’t perfect I just wait and sacrifice and things always come back to the wonderful again. Most all of our problems seem solvable as long as we are forgiving and repenting.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Lesson 8
Some things I learned from President Benson:
“Another face of pride is contention… Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces…all fall into this category of pride…Contention drives the Spirit of the Lord away. It also drives many of our family members away.”

I’d say President Ezra Taft Benson sums it all up. If we have contention in our hearts, we are in the wrong. This is very difficult because we feel others “make us mad.” In reality it is pride that makes us justify our behavior, thoughts, and feelings towards others who have wronged us.

“The proud are easily offended and hold grudges. They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.” That also seems to describe a lot of marriage relationships. We are so vulnerable and so easily offended by each other. I realize that when my husband and I are close we are not easily offended by each other. But when we do offend each other, I am so grateful that I have an understanding of the Savior and His atonement and what it means for us as a couple and me as an individual. I have learned that to truly repent I must go to the Lord not just my spouse or child, for forgiveness. In the scriptures I learn that if I have contention in my heart then I have something to repent of and can no longer “see clearly to cast the mote out thy [spouse’s] eye.” (3 Nephi 14:4-5)

What I have really desired lately is the freedom from fear, always being afraid of offending others or being too easily offended myself. Pres Benson shed some specific light for me. “When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod.” I hate feeling like I am a prisoner because I might or did offend someone. When I focus on the Savior and not on what I am doing or saying then my fear leaves and I feel an independent from the world. It is wonderful to feel that freedom. I am really working on focusing on Jesus Christ all the time and it makes a real difference - a literal physical, mental, and emotional difference.

I have been working at keeping my focus on the Savior. One particular day, when everyone was complaining and getting after me for what I was or was not doing, as the mother, I began to be overwhelmed with sorrow and anger. As I went to my room to cry or pray or something, I pictured the Savior by me and thought “Is this the way He feels towards me? No, neither would Heavenly Father. They would see I am doing all I can, I am giving my all.” Immediately, the sadness and anger left and I carried on my duties feeling at peace. I have done that many times since then. Of course there are times that the answer is “yes, He would not approve of what you are doing” (that is when I’m engaging in contention). Then I must go and repent. But, if I am doing my best and it isn’t good enough for everyone else - if it is good enough for Him, then it is good enough. The minute I have this affirmation the fear or hurt leaves and I am at peace. I believe humility and emotional freedom go together.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lesson 7

As I ponder about how I stay connected to my spouse, I realize that a great way to stay connected is to connect often. From early on in our marriage my husband decided going on a date once a week was essential, and it has been. We have missed a week here and there but it has helped us stay connected during the hard times and the better times. When we had a bunch of little ones and my husband was home about an hour a day, I felt these dates saved my sanity and our friendship. Now that my husband is busy in callings and I’m busy in school they are meaningful for him, especially. Sometimes we connect more than other times, but it is always easier to connect if you have been connecting often.

One way Gottman talks about couples turning to each other instead of turning to others or other things. Connecting often makes this much easier and affective. I can recall times when I had to make a decision to humble myself and come back to connect and turn towards my husband instead of defending myself or my position in any particular discussion. I would turn towards him by talking to him about my hopes and fears and maybe even my hurt feelings. I realized at the time (but don’t always) that contention would cause a wedge to come between us and then neither position would matter. I have prayed a lot for humility during stressful times or times when I feel we are at odds. Because we are each other’s best friend it is usually when life is just stressful because it’s life, and because we haven’t had enough connections that little spats happen anyway.

How marriage would work well without repentance or forgiveness is something I cannot comprehend. I apologize because I believe in Christ and His atoning sacrifice and feel I must repent and start clean again. I forgive because of the same reason. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ I must forgive, always and quickly. This makes all the difference as to how happy I am in my married life and my life in general.

The remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce. It is
in repentance. It is not in separation…” President Hicnkley