April 12, 2012

For Broken Hearts and Homes

This past General Conference I was encouraged by the many talks about strengthening the family and teaching children. It was a reminder to me that God knows the struggles we parents face at this time and will help guide us through as we strive to help our children navigate this life. We are not alone in our efforts to raise and teach our children!

Recently I've witnessed several families that I love suffer as spouses have fallen prey to addictions and worldly temptations. My heart has ached for the spouses and children who are victims of the poor choices of others. And I wondered, how will they ever manage to see their families successfully through this journey of life under such difficult circumstances when so many struggle under ideal conditions?

I doubted it was possible, but I have watched diligent parents miraculously raise their families from the ashes of a broken home. By relying on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, strength, healing and success have come. These families use their God given agency to take control and act with faith in rebuilding self-esteem, testimonies, and happy homes. It has not been easy for these families, but they are living testaments that with God all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26)

Not every struggling LDS family I know has been succesful however. Often families going through severe struggles feel ostracized, misunderstood, or out of place at church. And unfortunately, hurtful comments and misplaced advice often come from extended family members, fellow church members or leaders. It is tragic that when families need help the most they turn away from the very thing that can help the most, the Gospel, because of people at church.

In the Saturday morning session of conference, Elder Hallstrom described the difference between "the church" and "the Gospel". While 'the church" is fallible, the Gospel is not. There are no misfits in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Families who hold tight to the Gospel of Jesus Christ are strengthened in their afflictions. Cling to the truths that Gospel of Jesus Christ is true; that the Savior lives and loves us; that angels are there to bear us up; and that God who knows the "sparrow" (Matt. 10:29-30) also knows us and our personal needs and will comfort us.

How does the Lord help us?
Seeking the guidance of the Spirit and receiving personal revelation become key to guiding families through difficult times. The scriptures are full of examples of finding healing and comfort amidst affliction. Timely words from a loving Father in Heaven, who knows what we need- right now, are given through latter-day leaders in General Conference and other inspired works. Fasting, prayer and temple attendance take on new meaning as we seek guidance from above. We are so blessed to have many gospel resources available to strengthen us!

We are encouraged in the Gospel to seek light and truth through learning. The Spirit can guide us to truth that can ease our burdens. I had some of my friends that are amidst family struggles recommend some practical resources that they have been led to that have given them tools, education, and empowerment when they felt otherwise unequipped to deal with the new challenges their families faced.

I hope these resources may prove helpful for you or families you love in times of need. If you have found other resources that have been helpful in strengthening your family amidst hard times please share!

Strengthening Families and Communication
Provident Living Family Resources Library
Strengthening Your Marriage and Family, Douglas Brinley
The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Dealing with Addictions
LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program
Codependent No More, Melody Beattie
Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, Anne Katherine

For Better or For Worse, E. Mavis Hetherington
The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie
What About the Kids?, Judith Wallerstein
What (and what not) to Say to Recently Divorced, LDS Living

Power of Positive Parenting, Glenn Latham
Christlike Parenting, Glenn I. Latham
Love and Logic

-------------------------- Jana is the wannabe homeschooling mother of four, soon to be five next month. She thinks families are God's best idea and loves learning about ways to strengthen hers. ---------------------------

3 comments - Add a comment below -:

Shirley said...

The church has a new pilot support group for family members of addicts in addition to the other ARP groups. This new group is amazing! I am starting one in my stake. I have such a testimony of the ARP Program!!

Rachel said...

Thank you for this post! I come from a home where many of my parents/siblings trials have been in full view. (Abuse, addiction, divorce, etc) My family members have definitely felt the discriminating and misunderstanding glares from those who should be there to give love and support. (Church members and even extended family) I think there were some talks this Conference that were much needed-like the one directed to single mothers- and I also loved when the difference was pointed out between the gospel and the church! Thank you to you who continue to love those you think are living life 'wrong'. ... We all have challenges.. I always tell my mother that she must be an incredible Spirit to be handed all the challenges she's been given. The fact that she still is an active and faithful member despite the glares and rude comments of members that misunderstand her situation is a testament to her strength. Those glares and comments exist as a challenge to her on top of her greatest trials that at times confine her to her closet to cry out to God for hours. We need to get back to giving each other the benefit of the doubt, that we all are trying our hardest to grow with the challenges that have been given.

Rachel said...

I meant to also add a big THANK YOU for providing resources for more understanding! I will definitely be picking up some of those books!