I have been thinking a lot about love and family lately. If I could pick two things that I have worked my hardest to build in this life, I would choose a loving heart and a strong family.
The desire for love and family is universal. Our soul inherently craves connection. Our greatest joys and our greatest heartache surround our families.
We all desire love and family.
I grew up in a family with a single mother. I felt my mother's deep yearning for family. As a little girl, I remember singing the song from An American Tale, with tears in my eyes and my father in my heart, "Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light, someone's thinking of me, and loving me tonight."
We all want, even need, to be loved. We crave families. Young children instinctively play "family". Children with dysfunctional families create surrogate gang families. Pets are treated like children. People spend vast amounts of money at infertility doctors enduring much for the opportunity to create a family. And, same-sex couples have fought hard for their rights to marriage and family.
I believe our desires for love and family spring from our own creation. We are children of God. We were created by a loving Father in Heaven and our bodies and souls are designed to become like him. "Family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children." (The Family, A Proclamation to the World.)
Love grows and gets better with time and life experience.
In a recent talk by President Boyd K Packer, The Plan of Happiness, he said, "Romantic love is incomplete; it is a prelude. Love is nourished by the coming of children, who spring from that fountain of life entrusted to couples in marriage. Conception takes place in a wedded embrace between husband and wife. A tiny body begins to form after a pattern of magnificent complexity. A child comes forth in the miracle of birth, created in the image of its earthly father and mother. Within its mortal body is a spirit able to feel and perceive spiritual things. Dormant in that mortal body of this child is the power to beget offspring in its own image."
Those who trade eternal families for romantic love are trading their eternal birthright for a bowl of porridge.
"The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness."
In the trailer to a new reality tv show called, I am Cait, Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner, describes his transgender transformation. (I will refer to him as Caitlyn, because that is his new name, but I will continue to use the pronoun he because I don't believe plastic surgery can change gender.)
He says, "This is about getting to be who you really are." Who you really are.
Oh, how those words have echoed in my soul. How do we get to be who we really are? Aren't we all trying to do this?
I don't believe that it takes extreme plastic surgery, shopping sprees, or a malibu mansion for anyone to find themselves. In fact, just the opposite. I believe in a God who teaches, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39
But, our whole nation has felt something as we've watched the Jenner family respond to Caitlyn Jenner's transformation. We have. What is it?
What is it that we feel and respond to?
It is FAMILY, it is love. Caitlyn Jenner is a father to a family of step-children and children that he could not have fathered as a woman. I wonder how much of "finding himself" came as he wore a dress publically for the first time, and how much came as he felt the love and support his family and our nation continued to give him even if he was wearing a dress.
Yes, love and family are two basic desires of our human souls. It is SAD that some feel the need to shave their facial bones to feel this love and to find who they really are. We are all intrinsically loved more than we know.
Honestly, Kendall Jenner's tweet for Father's Day made me tear up. "My whole life this soul was my daddy," she tweeted, "and just because your appearance is different now doesn't mean you were any less of a father to me my entire life. Happy Father's Day to the person who raised me, and taught me everything I know."
She loves her father. THAT is beautiful.
I know it is a bit ridiculous for me to combine family, the Jenners, and same-sex marriage in one blog. But, I had to do it to sort through my feelings. Writing a blog in support of family following the SCOTUS decision to legalize same-sex marriage has been SO hard for me. This is honestly one of the hardest blogs that I have ever written.
And, I think I have finally figured out why. It is because I GET IT.
I think I know WHY same-sex couples want to marry.
I know why they want their children to feel legitimate and accepted and normal.
I want that too, for my children and theirs.
I wanted to feel that acceptance as a young girl at back to school night with my single mother.
Families in general are so messed-up these days and it hurts my soul.
I can preach anti-abortion (how about we introduce one more hot topic) but what am I willing to do about single mothers or families that don't know how to care for their children?
Families ARE disintegrating. How can we help?
It's not just same-sex couples that become legitimate with this ruling, as they are accepted into society, I can feel all types of mixed up families becoming accepted. Some people are scared of this, I get that. But, I can see good that can come from this too. People need to feel loved and accepted not ostracized. Individual choices already lead to guilt and regret that we can never change, but we can be a friend, we can reach out in small ways to help imperfect individuals on their own journey.
In a wise moment of understanding, a friend of mine said, "We always focus on being perfect when we talk of becoming like Christ. Maybe we should focus more on LOVING IMPERFECT PEOPLE like He did."
We live in a society of orphaned children and dysfunctional homes, we have so many single mothers and so many pieced together quilt-y families where step parents, extended family members, even strangers have stepped in to love children they did not give birth to-- this is sad and absolutely beautiful all at the same time.
Because family is so important to me and so central to happiness in this life and in eternity, I want this for everyone. I want LOVE to win. I believe with all my soul that "Charity (the pure love of Christ) never faileth."
And yet, I see with clarity the lies hidden in perhaps the greatest of all truth, that love wins.
The law of chastity is an eternal law. God has set bounds for our sexual relationships. True love and strong families are built upon eternal marriage covenants. Covenants that bind a husband and wife and covenants that harness procreative power within this eternal union. Satan does not have a body and he cannot procreate. He is doing all in his power to take from us our families and to pervert sexuality. Satan wants our children.
Happiness and love are the result of bridling our passions and serving another.
Happiness and love can not be bought or legislated. No plastic surgery, no legal terminology, no amount of public support can compensate for or replace a hole left in one's soul by sexual immorality, broken families, depression, mental illness, physical disabilities, loneliness, despair, or any of the other trials of life that leave us feeling lost and empty.
Only God holds the key to healing our broken hearts, only God can help us to be who we really are.
"For now I offer this comfort: God is our Father! All the love and generosity manifest in the ideal earthly father is magnified in Him who is our Father and our God beyond the capacity of the mortal mind to comprehend. His judgments are just; His mercy without limit; His power to compensate beyond any earthly comparison." (Packer, The Plan of Happiness.)
This weekend we felt a bit of the joy and celebration that some felt when SCOTUS ruled in favor of same-sex family. Can you imagine the absolute JOY that we will feel in a future day, when we kneel at the feet of our God and watch him literally HEAL and fix our broken families. HIS POWER TO COMPENSATE IS BEYOND ANY EARTHLY COMPARISON. I know this is true. I look forward to this day.
Today, I am absolutely inadequate to articulate the great emotion in my soul.
I do not believe same-sex marriage is the order of eternity. I believe that we were created to mate with a member of the opposite sex and I know that procreation, love, and family life is the key to eternal happiness. I believe with all of my soul the truths taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Which says in part that,
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. ...
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
I find it interesting that this last paragraph does NOT blame national legislature for the disintegration of the family. Instead, it is INDIVIDUALS who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities that will one day stand accountable before God.
Individual irresponsibility has caused our families to disintegrate and only individual responsibility can heal families.
Let us each start TODAY to be more responsible.
Let us love one another.
Let us cleave unto the covenants that we have made.
Let us be so very careful with our divine power to procreate.
Let us be virtuous and responsible as we choose our eternal companions.
Let us all, men and women, work together to be homemakers and family builders.
Let us be better mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends.
Love wins!! Always.
God is love.
We are children of a Heavenly Father.
We were created to be mothers and fathers.
No amount of legislation or plastic surgery will ever fill our yearning for love and family.
God can heal us all. He forgives.
He can fill us with His love, and only He can make us who we really are.
Happily Ever After does not END with marriage.
It begins with marriage.
There is no happily ever after without the PROMISE of a blessed, healing resurrection and eternal families.
I believe in love and I believe in families.
And today, I give thanks for both.